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Top American Doctors Visit Military Facilities in Germany

By Staff Sgt. Laura Holzer, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2007 – Two of the senior doctors in the United States toured Ramstein Air Base and the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany Feb. 19 to 23.

Dr. William Plested III, president of the American Medical Association; Dr. J. Edward Hill, former AMA president; and Maj. Gen. Gerald Harmon, assistant to the Air National Guard surgeon general; got a firsthand look at how the military cares for wounded troops.

The AMA unites doctors nationwide and addresses professional and public health issues.

"I'm interested in the care our soldiers are getting," Plested said. "My partner was the first American surgeon in Iraq. He went across with the Marines, and I wanted to see what he was doing while I was minding the store."

Members of the Ramstein medical community educated the doctors on the transporting process, including a tour of a C-130 Hercules used to move patients out of the deployment theater.

"Everyone knows the war is going on and we have a lot of troops getting hurt," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Tremayne Neals, an aeromedical evacuation technician. "That's the purpose of this static (display); to show them some of our capabilities for bringing our troops back home."

This aeromedical evacuation process demonstrates a key component of global mobility. During the Vietnam War, it took 45 days to return casualties home. In Operation Desert Storm it took 10. Now it only takes three days, officials said.

"One of the problems we have in the United States is ‘hand-offs,’” Hill said. "When a patient is handed off from one care group to another, that's usually when errors occur. With the military, it's a transition so well done that you don't run the risk of those errors and mistakes."

The doctors also toured the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility here and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

"I'm just totally impressed with the medical care that's being given in our military," Plested said. "I think it's giving us a lot of ideas of how we need to change medical care on the civilian side in the states."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Laura Holzer is assigned to Detachment 4, Air Force News Agency.)

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Ramstein Air Base, Germany
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

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