***image1***Providing lightening-quick think- ing in dire situations and a steady hand has recently earned a medical evacuation nurse from the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here recognition as Flight Nurse of the Year.
Capt. Kerry Castillo, 86th AES flight nurse, won the Dolly Vinsant Flight Nurse Award for outstanding achievements in the air evacuation structure while engaged in numerous air evacuation missions.
According to Maj. Guylene Kriegh-Fleming, 86th AES assistant director of operations, Captain Castillo was involved in ensuring an American pilot with a broken back was stabilized and made it out of a hostile area; she also helped move four critically wounded Ukrainian soldiers home following an improvised explosive ordnance attack.
The American pilot also sustained a broken arm and bilateral lower extremity compartment syndrome following a helicopter crash but due to damaged radar, couldn’t be transported for a six-hour period in a hostile environment in which Captain Castillo provided pain management and patient security, she said.
Within the first month of a deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq, Captain Castillo moved 10 urgent and four priority patients while integrating with the Critical Care Air Transport Teams to provide optimal care at altitude, all during blackout conditions, said Capt. Christopher Paige, 86th AES. This included another IED blast victim who required a ventilator, four chest tubes, a dopamine drip, bilateral below-the-knee amputations and an open abdomen with a Bagota bag in place to a trauma center in Germany.
Later, during the transport of a cardiac patient out of a remote hostile fire zone in Bosnia, Captain Castillo initiated advanced cardiac life support protocols and established a phone patch to the validating flight surgeon, he said. She averted a potential crisis by continuing to provide intravenous fluids and cardiac medications which stabilized the patient’s symptomatic bradycardia.
She was nominated for the award by her commander, Col. Linda Ebling, 86th AES commander. “Captain Castillo truly epitomizes the spirit and intent of this award. The 86 AES celebrates it with her,” she said.
The award, presented each year by the Commemorative Air Force, is presented to a nurse who puts patient care above self and volunteers at great personal risk to fly missions to bring caring help to ill or injured military personnel.
It is named to pay tribute to Lt. Wilma “Dolly” Roland Vinsant, a flight nurse who was killed in action over Germany during an aeromedical evacuation Aug. 14, 1945.
One of only three flight nurses known to have lost their lives in World War II, Vinsant is the only woman buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery in Margraten, Holland.