Over 250 service members at the U.S. Army-commanded Landstuhl Regional Medical Center don a different military uniform and serve under the U.S. Air Force’s 86th Medical Squadron, and work side by sidewith Army counterparts. In a testament to his proficiency, one joint-environment Airman was recently recognized as top performer in his field across the U.S. Air Force.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam Cardoza, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Pulmonary Clinic at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and a member of the 86th MDS Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT), was announced as the U.S. Air Force Medical Service Cardiopulmonary Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2020.
The Air Force Medical Service awards reflect the extraordinary quality of Air Force medics and recognize expertise, leadership and commitment to the Air Force mission and the Joint team, according to Air Force Medicine.
“Over the past year we’ve had a lot going on, especially for the respiratory therapy career field,” said Cardoza. “A lot of responsibility was put on us as a department to increase our capabilities to be able to meet the influx of (COVID-19) patients that could have come in.”
Serving in the field for over eight years, Cardoza’s choice to serve in the medical field was inspired by his mother’s service as a registered nurse.
“She kind of pushed me toward (medical professions) and I’ve loved it ever since,” said Cardoza.
In demonstrating his keenness for the field, Cardoza has since earned certifications and experiences outside of the military in the cardio pulmonary field since enlisting, to include working at civilian hospitals for additional capability.
“Because they usually see a higher acuity of patients, we’re able to go to these different hospitals and work as respiratory therapists which is very crucial for us to keep our skills up and to stay current on best practices,” said Cardoza, a native of Dana Point, California. “I’m really lucky that I was able to get this (military occupational specialty) and stay in it so long.”
Although the promise of a good career enthuses Cardoza to continue in the field, he states the impact he has on patients is what really drives his work ethic.
“I love patient care, I love taking care of patients. I actually just saw a patient that I took care of in the (Intenisve Care Unit) who was very, very sick,” said Cardoza. “Since discharge, (the patient) looks like a totally different person. Being able to see the (transformation) is really rewarding and something that keeps me going.”
Cardoza’s work as a leader also played a role in his selection as top in his field.
“It’s very rewarding for me to get to train the younger generation coming in (the Air Force) and hopefully pass on some of my experience and let them take the reins as I go on and do other things,” said Cardoza.
Cardoza’s assignment as part of the CCATT, a highly specialized and uniquely skilled three-person medical team that augments standard aeromedical evacuation crew members and turns an aircraft into a flying intensive care unit, also influences his passion to care for patients and work with others.
“(CCATT) is pretty crucial to readiness operations here. Respiratory therapists are in the ICU with the nurses and doctors who are keeping patients alive. We’re there at the patient’s bedside when they are on life support,” explains Cardoza. “Our mission here directly translates to working in a wartime environment, so it’s really crucial we keep our skills up and keep training.
“I’m honored to be recognized at that level. I owe it to my team here and the leaders who allowed me to accomplish what I accomplished last year,” said Cardoza. “It was a really tough year for respiratory therapists, to be able to represent respiratory therapists across the Air Force is a true honor.”