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Storie’s Stories: USS Gerald R. Ford’s Pharmacy Technician

17 November 2023

From Petty Officer 3rd Class Simon Pike

“Here, you aren’t just providing a service, you are helping people on their worst day,” said
“Here, you aren’t just providing a service, you are helping people on their worst day,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Austin Storie, from Pacific, Missouri, the pharmacy technician for the world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). “[If] they feel like garbage, or they’re sick, we get them meds that help. Another corpsman or I will assess their symptoms and get them what they need that will help get them through the next 24 hours, next few days.”
The pharmacy aboard Gerald R. Ford is primarily equipped to provide medication for minor, acute illnesses, as well as over the counter medication.
“We have to recognize what patients are already taking, and make sure what they’re taking and what we’re giving them isn’t going to interact,” said Storie. “We need to make sure that the medication is being prescribed appropriately. The dose needs to be accurate so that the patient doesn’t take too much, too often.”
Storie is in charge of ordering and maintaining the inventory of medications, filling orders, and staying prepared in case he is needed by the ship’s nurse or resident anesthetist.
“There’s a lot more to it than the day-to-day filling of medications that are getting prescribed from sick call or appointments,” he said. “There might be a patient in the ward getting helped by the ship’s nurse. There’s the operating room, where I have to be on standby in case the surgeon or the anesthetist needs anything. He has a broad bag of medications at his disposal that I inspect every month to make sure he has everything that he needs and that nothing’s expired. He has a pretty narrow spectrum of what he normally uses, but it acts as a crash cart. He has what he needs in the event that something goes wrong and he needs to act quickly to stabilize someone.”
Lt. j.g. Ellie Uecker, from Cincinatti, the division officer for clinical support services, refers to Storie as the ‘Steward of the Pharmacy.’
“Medications are really important, complex and need to be well regulated,” she said. “That’s a big part of his job. The other part is that they need to be dispensed. There’s plenty of pharmacy technicians out there that see the medication, they see what the doctor’s orders are and they put that medication out. But Storie can actually talk about what that medicine is and what it does.”
A lot of Storie’s work is behind the scenes, ensuring the ship always has plenty of medication to provide for its Sailors.
“It’s more than just in these walls,” he said. “People don’t know that, and they don’t see that. There’s ordering meds, ensuring we aren’t running out of things. We made sure before deployment that we stocked up for everyone.”
Even while the ship is actively on deployment in the Mediterranean Sea, Storie works hard to meet and exceed stocking requirements.
“I’m required to have a certain quantity of certain meds,” he said. “Even though I’ve been told that it’s understandable whenever my quota percentage dips while underway – which is what those quotas are for – I try to meet them as best as I can. Ever since I first got here, it’s been, ‘Don’t be under 90 percent, don’t be under 90 percent.’ It’s been ingrained into my head at this point.”
Storie also has to juggle keeping the right medications in supply that may not be used often, but are what’s needed to help patients.
“It’s unpredictable,” Storie said. “You can never plan for it. You don’t know when someone’s going to come in, what’s wrong with them or what they’re going to need, what the providers are going to want to try. There’s been medications where I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m never going to use that.’ Guess what, I used it and I had to order more.”
For Uecker, one of the traits that sets Storie apart from other pharmacy technicians is his technical expertise.
“He’s technically excellent in the fact that he’s gone above and beyond to know exactly what it is that he’s dispensing,” Uecker said. “Even as high as I know the training at the pharmacy school goes, he’s always on the next level up. He’s always got a book in his hands to look up the little medications. He has been able to stand up as a lone pharmacy tech in a position where we might benefit from three pharmacy techs during a deployment. It’s been great to have such a reliable person in pharmacy.”
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is conducting a scheduled deployment in U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, demonstrating the commitment and power projection capability of the Navy’s globally deployed force. The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce. In total, the GRFCSG is deployed with more than 5,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander tasking.
Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. Ford-class aircraft carriers introduce 23 new technologies, including EMALS, AAG and Advanced Weapons Elevators. The new systems incorporated onto Ford-class ships are designed to deliver greater lethality, survivability and joint interoperability with a 20% smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier, paving the way forward for naval aviation.
For more information about the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), visit https://www.airlant.usff.navy.mil/cvn78/ and follow along on Facebook: @USSGeraldRFord, Instagram: @cvn78_grford, Twitter: @Warship_78, DVIDS www.dvids.net/CVN78 and LinkedIn at USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

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