By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chelsea A. Blom NMCSD Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Pfc. Joshua Jenkins was stationed with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms when he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in South Helmand Province, Afghanistan March 6, 2011, immediately beginning his medically evacuated (medevac) journey.
Since 2004, more than 1,300 wounded service members serving in the Global War on Terrorism have been medevac'd to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), with injuries including Traumatic Brain Injury and wounds sustained from detonated Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).
Jenkins sustained injuries to his left foot and ankle, breaking bones in his toes, foot and ankle. He was medevac'd from Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, then to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where he was stabilized to be transferred. From Landstuhl, he was flown to Joint Base Andrews, Md. where he was then transferred to Travis Air Force Base, Calif. Travis AFB, his last stop before making it to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where he was put on a medical bus to be transported to NMCSD March 13, 2011 his to begin treatment. "Knowing that I was coming here to Naval Medical Center San Diego was a huge relief," said Jenkins. "I knew what everyone here is capable of, so I knew that I wouldn't have to worry about my care." NMCSD began utilizing the medevac program at its inception in 1968, which is under the responsibility of the U.S. Air Force, headquartered in Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
NMCSD's medevac office coordinates with the Air Force regarding the estimated time of arrival, patient's destination, and the specific medical needs of the patient. The Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5) program at NMCSD determines if a patient can be treated at here.
"The C5 program here plays a very important part in helping to determine where we need to have a member go," said Gregory M. Mayes, the aeromedical evacuation coordinator at NMCSD.
NMCSD's medevac's primary landing location is at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which coordinates approximately 95 percent of the incoming flights.
"During the transport, the staff onboard (the flight) made sure I was very comfortable," said Lance Cpl. Antonio R. Ortega, a combat wounded marine who arrived at NMCSD in July 2010, and has been receiving his rehabilitation and therapy since.
The number of patients arriving at NMCSD via medevac ranges from 30 to 50 per month.
The primary focus of the medevac office is to transport personnel from the war zone. The mission has changed through the years, but the process is continually improving, according to Mayes.
"It's rewarding knowing that I can help facilitate the safe transport of our men and women who have been injured and who have made huge personal sacrifices. That's why I've stayed here for 20 years," said Mayes.
The medevac office at NMCSD coordinates transportation for all branches of the armed forces, including foreign military nationals to NMCSD.
"The staff here (NMCSD) helped me get into all my appointments and keep track of them, and if I have any issues with my pay or my health, they will help me out immediately. They really take care of me here," said Ortega.
For more information on medical evacuation services at NMCSD, please visit http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Pages/default.aspx or call the Medical Evacuation Office at (619) 532-8311.