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Deployed USU Grads Draw on ‘Bushmaster’

Doctor administering anesthesia during surgery.

By Zachary Willis

“There’s no doubt in my mind [that], had we not intervened, he would’ve died.”

Army Maj. (Dr.) Adrian Arnett, a USU class of 2011 graduate, punctuated a story from fellow alum Dr. Daniel Raboin (class of 2012) that told of a wounded Afghan Special Operations soldier who had been transferred to the U.S. Army-led combined-joint NATO Role II Military Treatment Facility (MTF) at the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“The Afghan hospital that he had been transferred from had reported to us that he was basically dying on the table over there,” Raboin, an Army physician, recalled. “We received him and [Dr. Arnett] led the resuscitation. We did everything we could.”

In his role as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Emergency department at the NATO hospital, Arnett is no stranger to acting quickly. On a day-to-day basis, Arnett works to keep the ER functioning while simultaneously coordinating mass casualty training events, allocating resources to patients, and putting on extra trainings for those who work in the hospital or one of the coalition nations.

a team works on a patient in an emergency room
MAJ Arnett (Left, foot of bed) leads a resuscitation while MAJ Raboin (2nd from left, back visibible) places a central line as the surgeon places a chest tube. (Courtesy Photo)  

“At this hospital we have partners from all over the world, including Australia, Denmark, Romania, Albania, Turkey, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Germany,” said Arnett. “Our Role II hospital consists of about 42 people that actually belong to us, and with other nations calculated in, that number gets to the upper 50s, lower 60s depending on deployment cycles.”

Raboin works as the commander of the NATO Role II hospital as well as the hospital’s anesthesiologist and HKIA commander’s Medical Advisor, responsible for the force health protection of more than 5,500 personnel, and up to 10,000 others as medical support for the Kabul Base Cluster. Similar to Arnett, Raboin’s role also includes working with coalition partners in a complex multi-national medical environment. Both Arnett and Raboin credit the unique knowledge and skills they learned in the USU curriculum, specifically the Operation Bushmaster exercise, which enhanced their ability to perform such a wide range of roles in the deployed environment.

“The thing I brought home from Bushmaster was being able to lead your peers,” Raboin said. “I’m a major, and all the other doctors that work for me are also majors. Being with other doctor-majors and getting them to do what you need them to do is a completely different skill set from ordering enlisted soldiers.

“I think Bushmaster especially helps when you work with other Services – we are truly a combined and joint area. Being able to work between Services and being able to work together, that’s one huge thing I learned at Bushmaster and at USU in general,” Raboin continued.

Doctor performs a peripheral nerve block.
MAJ Raboin performs a peripheral nerve block. (Courtesy Photo)  

“I was a battalion surgeon in Italy for two years with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and I was the OIC of their Role II hospital,” said Arnett. “We did a lot of austere medicine and field medicine, setting up tents and stretchers in the middle of nowhere. I remember doing that during Bushmaster, where you’re treating patients in an austere environment, and getting a sense of how it goes there. It’s really cool to see that in real life in the Army; we’re out in the middle of nowhere setting up stretchers and treating patients just like we had in Bushmaster.”

The pair also credit Bushmaster for the exposure it gives to foreign cultures and customs. “The base commander of HKIA is Turkish, so being able to work across different cultures and learning about those cultures is important,” said Arnett.

And that wounded Afghan Special Operations soldier?

“Our surgeon put a chest tube in,” said Raboin. “We were able to stabilize him, give him blood, and then send him to the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Airfield.”

Five days later, Raboin said, the soldier returned to the NATO Role II hospital to show Raboin and Arnett photos of himself with his children.

“It was great to see him come back in,” Arnett recalled. “We met him, shook his hand, and he was grateful. I think we’ll always remember that picture of him with his three kids. To know that you’re involved in the resuscitation of this man, and helping him get back to his family, it just felt amazing. It was probably the best experience I’ve had on this deployment.”