TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – “Typically, we get 911 calls, but our real job starts before the 911 calls,” said Tech. Sgt. James Martin, 60th Medical Operations Squadron paramedic.
Airmen from the 60th MDOS deliver fast and responsive care at David Grant USAF Medical Center — "We come in first thing in the morning and we do a full prep,” said Martin.
The morning prep is crucial because an emergency call could come at a moment’s notice and time is of the essence.
“We make sure all of our equipment, our ambulances … it’s all ready to go,” he said. “We have our jump bags, our monitors, our radios … we’ll get a radio call: ‘stand by district two for medical’ — we leave within three minutes of that call.”
Martin works with a large department of doctors, nurses and other paramedics in the emergency room at DGMC, but it’s only a small group who responds to a call.
After receiving the call, a paramedic and technician within the department will go to that call, either provide care on scene or formulate a care plan depending on a number of contingencies, Martin explained.
“Over the radio on the way to the location, we get the basic information — was there a car accident or is there a fire? Will security forces be on the scene or the fire department? All of this factors into the care we give on the scene,” he said.
Based on the patient’s status, they will discuss quick options for them, like coming to the ER or providing on-site care. Martin said most patients prefer going to the ER.
“Once we’re back in the ambulance, that’s when we put in maybe an intravenous catheter for fluids or medication — we’re doing this while driving down the road in the ambulance,” Martin explained.
This is what makes being a paramedic unique, he added.
“That care continues; we ask questions, get history or give medications and try to improve their condition,” he said. “Then we’re going to head back to DGMC or depending on severity of care, we may take them downtown for a few injuries or situations.”
Martin was recently selected to promote to the rank of Master Sergeant. His leadership explained that it is because of his dedication, leadership and expertise.
“He’s always willing to work, stay late, be here early — I have to kick him out most of the time,” said Master Sgt. Renelyn Pagan, emergency department flight chief. “He’s our subject matter expert here, from equipment to meds to training and our vehicles.”
With more than 13 years of experience in the medical career field, Martin enjoys working in emergency services the most.
“I enjoy this job,” Martin said. “EMS has been my niche that I’ve fallen into since I joined and I like it because it’s an adrenaline rush. People call me on their worst day, even if I don’t think it’s their worst, to them it is their worst day… they are asking for some help and it’s exciting for me to be able to help.”