The bellows of laboring women and the crying of newborns is not a bother to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Caige Chapman, whose journey as an Independent Duty Medical Technician has led him through deployments, emergency departments and now as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Labor, Delivery, Recovery, Postpartum Unit at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
An accomplished health care professional, Chapman lives by the creed “Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,” a slogan he exhibited when he answered a call for support during a recent deployment to Poland with only five days’ notice.
“They needed medical support (for the deployment),” explains the native of Castroville, Texas, who deployed with the 435th Contingency Response Group to Poland. “Two (IDMTs) ran a 24/7 shop to make sure if anyone needed medical care, they had it and provide any emergency response to the flight line.”
The (435th CRG) is the only American quick-deploying force in Europe that can build a makeshift airbase from which to launch operations anywhere on the continent and specializes in combat communications, air traffic control, cargo transportation and airfield management. The group is based out of Ramstein Air Base.
During the deployment, Chapman and his counterpart were the only medical providers for approximately 150 Service Members with the 435th CRG.
An IDMT is the only enlisted health care provider who can give care in the absence of a licensed, privileged or credentialed health care provider at U.S. Air Force medical treatment facilities, host nation medical treatment facilities, and remote or deployed sites. According to Chapman, the professionals are authorized to provide a full range of medical care and prescriptions up to schedule II drugs, which include most narcotics.
“(IDMT medical capabilities) include anything for basic care to keep (Service Members) boots on ground,” said Chapman.
Although only tasked with medical support during the deployment, when Chapman wasn’t engaged in the aid station, he worked to earn his fellow Airmen’s trust and confidence by supporting any mission he could.
“One of the best things about my job is of course we’re out there to be to be their medical support, but we get to work with so many other entities and really just any (military occupational specialty) throughout any military branch,” explained Chapman. “So, I got to go out there and load aircraft, put pallets together and just anything required.”
Chapman explains it’s part of a bigger drive in the Air Force to develop Multi-capable Airmen, Airmen who are trained in tasks outside of their primary specialty in order to reduce the overall personnel footprint.
Despite the short notice for deployment, Chapman’s expertise and commitment to the mission earned praise from superiors and peers.
“If you’re ready, you’re ready. If you have to get ready, that’s a problem,” said Chapman. “The only downside with something like this is of course family but my wife has always been my rock. She’s used to this.”
Deployments and new assignments aren’t new for the father of two, who has also deployed to Afghanistan and in support of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, a government agency tasked with searching and accounting for missing uniformed personnel from past conflicts. However, when Chapman was transferred to the LDRP, then Labor and Delivery Unit, about a year ago, he did not foresee a wave of Afghan women needing medical attention following the hospital’s involvement in Operation Allies Refuge / Welcome (OAR/OAW). Now the top enlisted at LRMC’s LDRP, Chapman states the different missions and assignments have helped develop him into a leader, now focused on the emerging workforce under him.
“It’s been it’s been a fun change, it’s a very unique mission (at LDRP),” explains Chapman, who is no stranger to trauma response. “I’m an IDMT by trade, so trauma, trauma, trauma is what I’m trained for. But the (women’s health) mission that took place during (Operation Allies Refuge), no one saw that coming. We’re changing our mindset, when it comes to maternal services. It’s awesome to see the team come together.”