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Teaming up to simplify saving lives

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Some might say there’s a formula to providing quality healthcare – A heap of science, a dash of art and a whole lot of practice.

As with almost any science or art, having the right tools for the job goes a long way in perfecting one’s craft, and for the 81st Medical Group, their craft is lifesaving.

One of the most essential tools for medical personnel is a crash cart; a wheeled container with medicine and equipment used for emergency resuscitations.

Members of the 81st MDG recently teamed up with 81st Training Group non-prior service Airmen awaiting training to order, organize and build 26 carts in an effort to standardize procedures within the hospital and align with where the Air Force Medical Operations Agency is taking the service’s healthcare enterprise.

“Standardizing, in this case, also means simplifying,” said Maj. Sarah Abel, 81st Medical Operations Squadron internal medicine flight commander. “No matter where our medics end up within the Air Force, the crash carts and procedures to save a life using a crash cart should be the same. Thanks to this process, we can help prevent errors, improve cost effectiveness and boost patient safety.”

In order to standardize the tools needed to save a life on the line across the Air Force, the first order of business was figuring out what to keep and what to cut.

“Our carts are meant to support heart function,” Abel said. “So everything on the cart should be for that and allow our medics to act quickly and methodically to save a life. We’re consolidating our tools down to what we need most, first, and we’re also getting back to the basics of effective CPR. We’re taking an algorithmic approach to life saving.”

Once AFMOA provided the streamlined equipment list, the 81st Medical Support Squadron’s Medical Logistics Flight took the reins purchasing the medics’ tools of the trade.

“It’s on us to be good stewards of our resources,” said Capt. Heather Crawford, 81st MDSS Medical Logistics Flight medical materiel director. “These crash carts are being pushed out to 15 different units within the hospital, and this standardization across the group helped us consolidate our assets and saved $288,000 in equipment costs.”

After ordering the equipment, the Keesler Medical Center enlisted the aid of 12 Airmen awaiting training from the 81st TRG to help the medical logistics flight build these streamlined carts from the ground up. Bringing in students not only helped the medics complete their task more quickly, but also gave the training Airmen a sample of an Air Force mission they may not be familiar with yet.

“During technical training here we build on the foundational knowledge learned at basic training,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Anderson III, 81st TRG military training leader. “This is strengthened by their understanding of the many missions within the Air Force, and this opportunity for our Airmen to work with the 81st MDG helped give them some perspective of the larger Air Force outside of their primary careers they’re learning about right now.”

The initiative of each party involved to assess, collect and build these carts will lead to a more lean, strategic and focused approach to healthcare, Abel added.

“The student Airmen did a great thing in helping us out,” Abel said. “They weren’t ‘just’ building a cart or two; they had a direct hand in helping us save lives and reach countless people every year."