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Urgent Care Airman channels passion for others, assists those in need

Flashing Lights

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Blake Ashford, a 35th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician, poses for a photo on an ambulance at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 14, 2018. Ashford works in the emergency services department and responds to some of Misawa's most critical health cases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Pressure on

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Blake Ashford, a 35th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician, checks a patient’s blood pressure at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 14, 2018. When blood pressure is high, it puts extra strain on the arteries and heart. Over time, this strain can cause the arteries to become thicker and less flexible and weak. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Tubes of blood

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Blake Ashford, a 35th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician, ensures all blood tubes are ready for use at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 14, 2018. The tubes are used to collect patients' blood samples to determine or rule out a diagnosis. Many diagnoses created rely on blood samples. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Fixing parts

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Blake Ashford, a 35th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician, tightens the seats of an ambulance at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 14, 2018. Ashford works in the emergency services department and responds to some of Misawa's most critical health cases. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- “Tag, you’re it!” a mother hears her son scream excitedly as he runs down the hall outside her bedroom, darting to avoid his sister's grasp.

Then, in the midst of the running and giggling, a loud thump echoes through the house, extinguishing the joy. A blood-curling scream fills the vacuum; the mom runs from her room to see the boy's arm hanging limply at his side, suggesting a dislocated shoulder or worse.

Moments later, she rushes him to Misawa Air Base's Urgent Care Clinic.

She rings the bell, and up walks U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Blake Ashford, a 35th Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical service technician, with a cheerful, “How can I help you ma’am?”

The mother’s frantic rush and worry ebb as Ashford takes her and her child into the UCC.

It is instances like this, Ashford realizes how she sustains Misawa AB as a community and helps people through her work.

She’s always had a passion for helping others and says it stems from her dreams of being an elementary school teacher when she was a child. After talking to her Air Force recruiter, she knew her true calling had to be in the medical field because of her love for people, which is one of her favorite factors of her job. She joined the U.S. Air Force to follow her dreams while serving her country.

“Every morning, I am motivated to start my day,” Ashford explained. “To know I make a difference by helping someone not feel pain and providing them care to fix their problem puts a smile on my face.”

Ashford arrived at the emergency services department in April 2017.

She adapted to the fast-paced work environment and demanding requirements; she always has a positive attitude and a top-notch work ethic, praised U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sarah Lopez, the 35th MDOS emergency services flight chief.

When asked what her favorite aspect of her job is, Ashford said, “The 911 calls are most memorable to me.”

When patients with serious conditions such as strokes or heart attacks walk in, I think of my own family members and how I would want them taken care of, so delivering the same type of care is important to me, she added.

After a patient’s visit, Ashford always ensures the victim is pleased with their visit by ensuring no questions go unanswered.

“Patients have told me I am positive, energetic and I make them feel well taken care of,” she explained. “The fact their lives are in my hands pushes me to give 100 percent every day.”

Even with a dream job, some days are still stressful and frantic.

To cope with the pressure, she and her teammates take a time out and talk to ensure everyone is on the same page.

With the added communication shared between the group, Ashford feels inspired to take on more responsibilities.

“I needed a new alternate point of contact for our infection control program and one of the nurses recommend Ashford,” said Lopez. “She recently revamped some of the processes and led training for 28 members in our section since then. She owns this new responsibility, which is not something commonly seen in Airmen her age.”

In the future, Ashford said she’s interested in becoming a pararescueman or aeromedical evacuation technician to see a different part of the medical career field but to also continue helping people.

“I love my job and have a desire to assist people, including those hurting, in need, or wanting to be lifted up,” said Ashford. “There is so much aching in the world today, I want to be the person to show love and ease pain. A simple kind word and helping hand goes a long way with someone who truly needs it.”

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