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TACPs, special tactics clinic bandage more than just battlefield boo-boos

Col. James Wright, 720th Special Tactics Group (left) stands ready to assist Maj. Tom Waters, 720th STG (right), during an examination of Airman Basic Andrew Castellanos, a tactical air control party student at the battlefield Airmen clinic Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

Col. James Wright, 720th Special Tactics Group (left) stands ready to assist Maj. Tom Waters, 720th STG (right), during an examination of Airman Basic Andrew Castellanos, a tactical air control party student at the battlefield Airmen clinic Tuesday. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

Maj. Sarah Smith, 16th Medical Operations Squadron, examines the sprained ankle of Senior Airman Tim Taylor, 720th Operations Support Squadron, at the Battlefield Airmen Clinic Wednesday. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

Maj. Sarah Smith, 16th Medical Operations Squadron, examines the sprained ankle of Senior Airman Tim Taylor, 720th Operations Support Squadron, at the Battlefield Airmen Clinic Wednesday. (U.S. Air Force Photograph by Jamie Haig)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The 720th Special Tactics Group recently cut the ribbon on a brand new medical clinic Aug. 8 designed to better serve the unique physical needs of battlefield Airmen.

Maj. Gen. Don Wurster, Air Force Special Operations Command vice commander, officially opened the new Battlefield Airmen Clinic envisioned more than a year ago and completed entirely as a self-help project by the 720th STG medical staff with the help of advanced skills training and tactical air control party students.

"Due to the nature of training our special operators go through, injuries are common," said Maj. Tom Waters, 720th STG physician assistant. "And medical visits for these injuries, as well as other illnesses, can have a serious impact on their training."

The clinic, collocated in the dormitory area where special tactics and tactical air control party Airmen live, provides early intervention, close monitoring of training techniques and physical exam status as well as the convenience of being within close proximity to training and living facilities.

"We are very proud of our clinic," said Col. Ken Rodriguez, former commander of the 720th STG. "It was truly a Team Hurlburt effort that will enhance the performance of our warfighters and keep them healthy while they go through some difficult training."
Ten dormitory rooms were stripped of old carpet and renovated with new tile floors, paint and improved lighting to meet health care standards.

The clinic is completely outfitted with medical furniture, equipment, supplies and a state-of-the-art re-mote pharmacy system for convenient, on-site dispensing of medication.

"The opportunity we have here is to help people with rehabilitation and physical therapy before they get seriously injured," said General Wurster. "Our special operators and TACP students have different needs and different injuries that require different focus and perspective and this clinic will offer just that."

The clinic, which started seeing patients in April, has had more than 700 patient visits. These visits include primary care, acute injuries, dehydration, heat exhaustion and more.

"Care of these elite athletes will improve athletic performance, reduce injury rates, reduce time lost from training and duties and improve graduation rates from the training pipeline," Major Waters said.

"This will in turn increase the number of deployable battlefield Air-men available to support the current operations tempo."