The Life Saving Team

During a recent deployment to the Middle East the Air Force Special Operations Surgical Team recalled one patient who had been shot in the collar bone. The bullet exited his chest and the patient was hypotensive and bleeding out in the emergency room. The six-man team, which included one surgeon and five other airmen, quickly exhausted their supply of matched blood. “I thought we were going to lose the guy,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Mitchell, the team leader, in a Dec. 13 release. But one of his team members, “stayed cool and tied off the artery” and one of the team’s nurses donated blood, enabling them to finish the surgery. In just eight weeks, the team treated more than 750 patients, including 19 mass casualty events, which are defined as “anything that overwhelms the team’s capabilities and resources,” according to the release. The casualties “took a toll” on the team, said Mitchell. “But one of our best days was about 11 days later, when this guy [from the scenario above] walked in and said, ‘Thanks for saving my life.’”