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Laboratory Airman leads by example, receives award

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- For laboratory Airmen, detail and precision is everything. Not following proper procedures or executing them in the wrong order could mean the difference between life and death for their patients.

“The number one cause of any problem is not having attention to detail,” said Staff Sgt. Eileen Grizzard, 56th Medical Support Squadron, NCO in charge of specimen processing. “Simply adjusting a decimal point in a result can be the difference between someone being diagnosed with something or not.”

Collecting and processing blood samples, conducting urine screens, and processing patient procedures are some of the typical responsibilities for laboratory Airmen. For Grizzard, it’s going above and beyond to ensure these duties are performed the best of her ability.

“In a way we’re helping the doctor complete the puzzle” Grizzard said. “Even though the doctors know all of the patient’s symptoms, our lab results are the last puzzle piece telling them what they’re missing to complete the diagnosis.”

Along with her daily responsibilities, Grizzard also trains Phase II Airmen to become medical laboratory journeymen.

“Aside from patient work, I try to build my Airmen by showing them the proper procedures and teaching them the importance of this job,” Grizzard said. “I try to be the best example I can for my students.”

In addition to her primary duties, Grizzard is one of the physical training leaders in charge of scheduling fitness tests for her squadron and ensuring Airmen are prepared for them. She also recently took part in a humanitarian mission to El Salvador, providing medical support to local children in the communities.

For her recent accomplishments and providing excellence in her work, Grizzard received the Air Force Medical Service Award, ‘Laboratory Airman of the Year’ distinguishing herself amongst laboratory Airmen Air Force-wide.

“This award recognizes the Air Force Medical Service’s top performers, and Staff Sgt. Grizzard’s performance stood out amongst 74 labs Air Force-wide,” said Master Sgt. Morgan Iorio, 56th MSS medical laboratory flight chief. “Staff Sgt. Grizzard is a true professional and a team player. She steps up when needed and her efforts create a better work environment for everyone here at the laboratory.”

In the future, Grizzard plans on commissioning as a nurse by applying for the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program.

“At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I accomplished everything I could with the time I had,” Grizzard said.