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CJTH Airman keeps medical equipment tickin’

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Divine Cox
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

With today’s technology, providing top-notch healthcare at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan means having top-rate equipment to support medical missions around  the operating theater.

So when medical devices need repairing and/or replacing, it’s the job of Airmen like Tech. Sgt. Richard Smith, 455th Expeditionary Medical Operation Squadron clinical engineering NCOIC, to fix the problem.

“My job at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital is to fix and repair any broken medical equipment throughout the entire hospital,” said Smith. “It’s my responsibility to ensure that the facility stay up and running.”

Smith said that his team of four Airmen stays busy keeping up with day-to-day task as well as making sure that the hospital can care for every patient that passes through the doors.

“Every day is different for me, but typically we have scheduled work that we have to do through the month,” said Smith. “I make sure that my guys have everything they need to ensure our monthly taskers are met. If anything breaks or if there is an emergency with the equipment, we respond as quickly as possible to ensure the safety of the patients.”

According to Lt. Col. Charles Hughes, 455th Expeditionary Medical Group deputy commander, Smith and his team play a critical part in keeping CJTH and field clinics fully operational.

“Smith and his team of technicians maintain and repair CJTH’s medical equipment,” said Hughes. “The clinical professionals at the hospital use this equipment daily to provide a medical safety net for the area of responsibility.  Through skill and hard work, Smith has successfully kept the surgical and diagnostic equipment working that is directly tied to the hospital's 99% trauma survivability rate.  It should give all Bagram Airfield members confidence to lead and fight with courage knowing that Smith and the hospital are at the ready.”

Currently deployed from San Antonio Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, Smith has been in the Air Force for 13 years and is currently on his second deployment.

“I had mixed feelings about this deployment at first,” said Smith. “Leaving your family behind is always hard, but I joined during war time, so I knew that deploying was part of my job. I am excited to be the NCOIC of the shop. This is my first time being an NCOIC and I am excited to be here and help out any way that I can.”

The 455th EMDG mission is to provide premium care to all patients--U.S. forces, Afghan, and NATO forces as well as occasional Afghan civilians.

“We provide support for all of Afghanistan,” said Smith. “We have friendlies fighting for us and with us and if they get hurt, we have that support here at the hospital to get them the proper care that they need. We also provide a good faith support to the locals. We ultimately provide that premium care so Bagram Airfield can continue to defend, support and deliver airpower.”

While at BAF, Smith said his favorite part about this deployment has been working alongside great Airmen.

“Not only are the guys I work with very good at their jobs, but their always positive,” said Smith. “You need that type of attitude in this environment because it’s contagious. Our job is to help patients and without working equipment, we can’t afford the proper care to save a patient’s life. We fix a lot of vital equipment used to diagnose patients and without us, the CJTH would be down.”

Though fixing medical equipment and being the NCOIC of a small shop is just one piece of the hospital’s mission, Hughes praises the work that Smith does.

. “He and his team of biomedical repair technicians will work all-nighters and do whatever it takes to fix the equipment needed to accomplish the mission. Smith's work is seemingly endless, and so is his attitude,” said Hughes. “It is Airmen like Smith who make the military the most trusted organization in America.”