May your skies be blue, and your wingman be true!

We all know or in one way remember the buddy system. When you were a kid at camp you had a buddy that you had to go everywhere with, or as an adult if you’re walking home at night maybe it’s good idea to take a buddy. Generally we know this concept as a safety in numbers kind of philosophy. The Air Force however has a different approach on the buddy system, it’s called the “wingman concept”, and it’s not just about walking home alone at night from a bar, it’s a philosophy that they want to permeate into every aspect of everyone’s life. It goes beyond being safe in a dark alley, it goes into suicide prevention, co-dependance on your other airman, and in my opinion and many others a very distorted maladaptive way of building what the Air Force considers personal resilience.  Read more

A Whole New Standard

Placing a blood pressure cuff on a patient is typically a simple task.  This time was an exception. I felt for the cuff in my bag, pulled it out and went to secure it around the patient’s arm. As I did the floor shifted again and I tumbled forward. I grabbed the guy’s opposite arm to prevent face planting into his stomach. Unfortunately for my patient I grabbed the rubber bone sticking out of his arm that was covered in fake blood. In a second attempt, I was more successful in actually getting the cuff around his arm. As I went to turn the vital signs machine and complete the ritual I paused for a long moment, turned away, and proceeded to vomit in a painfully small plastic bag. Read more

Flying Scut Monkey

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good surgical resident when it’s the exact opposite of anything I self identify with.  Working in the TRU is a lot of fun, and in my opinion it’s the reason the Air Force sends us to Shock Trauma. Unfortunately, call is only every third night, although working more than that could easily kill a man, but call is where I learn the most. Read more

CSTARS: first call

The Trauma Resuscitation Unit, or “TRU,” as it’s known, is probably the number one place you don’t want to find yourself after a night of barhopping or drunk driving in Baltimore. The TRU is kind of like an emergency department, except the only rooms are trauma bays. Each bay comes stocked with everything a team of nurses and doctors would need to keep someone alive or bring them back to life. Read more


In non-acronym language it stands for the “Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills”. CSTARS is essentially the military’s solution to get Docs, nurses, and medics that are about to deploy some trauma training. There are a couple of sites where they send us, but the main one, and the one I find myself at is at the University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Read more


The bus dropped us off somewhere in the cold rainy Washington state wilderness. We broke off into our elements and started the short ½ mile or so hike to our campground. Upon seeing our campsite I got excited as there was a parachute suspended above a small clearing. Naturally I thought this is where we were supposed to sleep and would be a welcome shelter from the rain. Read more