Air National Guard medics and nurses are required to receive at least 40 hours of training a year at a level I or II trauma center. However, Bradley Air National Guard Base, where 103rd MDG members are stationed, does not have a trauma center. To meet the training requirement, Lt. Col. Charles Johndro, an Emergency Medical Control Physician with the 103rd, arranged an agreement with Hartford Hospital for 103rd medics to conduct trauma care training at the hospital’s Level I Trauma Center. Johndro, who is also the Emergency Medical Services Director for Hartford Healthcare and an attending physician at Hartford Hospital, oversees the training.
“[Johndro] is one of our own,” said Capt. Jennifer Monahan, Officer in Charge of Education and Training and Chief Nurse at the 103rd Medical Group. “He has served over 20 years in the military and he was a medic before he went to medical school and became a doctor, so he truly understands what the medics need and what's required of them. To have this physician who is a military member, as well as an emergency certified physician, teach our medics is really big.”
Before the partnership was established, trauma care training at Bradley was limited to simulations that utilized mannequins. The training at Hartford Hospital provides 103rd MDG members with hands-on experience in real-life trauma care.
“We're seeing patients, we're seeing the equipment, we're getting hands-on experience with a physician who is a trauma certified doctor,” said Monahan. So, if we have questions, he's able to answer them.”
While approximately 86 percent of 103rd MDG members work in health care outside of the military, less than 50 percent provide trauma care to patients on a regular basis. The training increases the readiness of the 103rd MDG by preparing medics for scenarios they may face during deployments.
“In a deployed setting, it is a requirement that we all have trauma training,” said Monahan, who also works as a critical care nurse at Backus Hospital outside of the military. “Some of our medics are firefighters and paramedics, but our nurses work in different capacities, so a lot of our members don't see these things. [103rd medics] are not getting what they need without this training.”
Staff Sgt. Anitress Delgado, a former emergency services worker who currently serves as Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of education and training for the 103rd MDG, agreed.
“I used to work in the [emergency medical services] capacity years ago, but I don't now, so all that I really have is my training,” said Delgado. “Seeing a live patient and seeing those live injuries was definitely a learning refresher. When you see someone who's probably having one of the worst days of their life and they're looking at you, it makes it extremely realistic.”
The partnership also highlights the Connecticut Guard’s readiness to respond to crises domestically.
“There's a lot of excitement around shadowing our own doctor and being comfortable in our own capacity, but also with the public that we interact with,” said Delgado. “This is helping to prepare us for emergency situations that could happen on the domestic side, like after a natural disaster. This agreement is definitely very beneficial for the Connecticut Guard and for civilians, seeing us, and knowing that they can trust the Guard and that we do actually have real skills.”