Tufts Medical Center CEO Dr. Michael Wagner and Captain Gina Wakelin, Professional Development Director of the ED
The day before Gina Wakelin, a reservist with the 804th Medical Brigade, ships out for a 10-month military deployment, she isn’t packing or saying farewell to friends. She’s hosting advanced trauma training for army reservists from across New England at Tufts Medical Center.
“There is a 96% soldier survival rate in Afghanistan and Iraq because of courses like this,” says Captain Wakelin, whose fulltime job is Professional Development Director of the Emergency Department at Tufts MC. “For most of these people, this is a refresher to help these reservists prepare for the fast-paced treatments that might be necessary when they are deployed.”
Forty soldiers who double in civilian life as physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other medical personnel are taking the all-day course – a re-certification requirement every four years. This is the first time Tufts Medical Center has hosted such a class.
“I’m coming from western Massachusetts. It’s a rare opportunity to get together and review the kinds of injuries we don’t see every day,” says Col. Roger Boutin from Chicopee, who served for a year in Iraq.
Those injuries could range from civilian accidents to IED explosions, severe burns, gunshot wounds and even amputations.
“This is part of any training – you practice and polish. I’ve learned some things this morning already,” explains Captain Mark Tyo, who just returned from 10 months in Afghanistan. He says the session is a way to reaffirm best practices.
For example, he notes that since the Boston Marathon bombing, the old-fashioned tourniquet has come back into widespread use.
“We never used tourniquets in battlefield medicine. We had fancy gadgets. Or we just put pressure on the wound,” says Captain Tyo, who lives in East Sandwich. “Now we are back to using them. They save lives.”
Instructors for the training were medical professionals from Tufts MC as well as other academic medical centers in the Boston area. Today’s session came just in time for Gina. She was able to teach and visit with other reservists before starting her 10-month deployment. She looks at the assignment as an opportunity to learn.
“I’m sad to leave family, but I’m proud,” says Wakelin, whose first stop will be Fort Bliss in Texas. “You never know what new techniques you’ll be exposed to out there. I could learn a new process or technique that might work here. So it’s exciting.”
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