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AUAB medics adapt to support Afghanistan evacuation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

“My faith in humanity is challenged every day by seeing the people we have to treat and the injuries they’re sustaining,” said Dr. (Maj.) Elaina Wild, 379th Expeditionary Medical Group chief medical officer. “But it’s restored every time I see what our medics and our people on the front lines are doing to save the lives of the evacuees.”

Since Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, became the main stopover location for qualified evacuees from Afghanistan on Aug. 14, 2021, the entire installation and all of its personnel have had to adapt at a moment’s notice in order to support the Afghanistan evacuation operations.

According to Wild, the 379th EMDG’s patient population increased tenfold on the first day of the operations, forcing them to adjust and act swiftly in order to help anyone in need of treatment.

“It’s interesting how the universe works, because the group of people that are here right now are exactly the group of people that we needed when this hit,” said Wild. “Most of our team here are Reservists who have different jobs outside of their Air Force career, but turns out they had skill sets from their civilian jobs that were extremely useful.”

While some of the National Guard and Reserve members of the 379th EMDG may work as Optometrists or Physical Therapists in the Air Force, they are fully qualified emergency medical technicians or labor and delivery nurses outside of the military.

Among those with skill sets outside of their duties, originally designed to support normal operations at Al Udeid AB, is Wild who is a family medicine doctor back at her duty station.

“My team and I have successfully helped deliver nine babies since the first group of evacuees landed here,” said Wild. “Our medics have stepped up, doing whatever they can to help and because of that, the babies and their mothers we’ve helped are now safe and healthy.”

Since the 379th EMDG is an expeditionary clinic and was not originally postured to support neo-natal care, medics had to overcome the circumstances and improvise with the supplies and knowledge they had in order to treat their patients.

“Every one of my medics has stepped up to this challenge and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Wild. “We’ve had to treat people who came to us in labor upon landing, people in diabetic ketoacidosis, people with open wounds, and we’ve been able to successfully deliver and care for nine babies.”

Thousands of evacuees have come through Al Udeid AB and a large number of them have needed medical treatment once they arrived. It’s because of the innovation and sacrifice of the 379th EMDG that those evacuees were able to receive the critical medical care they needed.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the medics on my team,” said Wild. “They put everything aside; sacrificed their sleep, skipped meals to give their food to their patients, saw cold children and literally gave them their blouse to make them a little more comfortable. These service members are saving lives and I am filled with pride to work alongside them.”