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The Burn Center accepts military and civilians

Army Burn Flight Team Completes Two Overseas Missions

November 9, 2022
Capt. Mihye Lee
Capt. Mihye Lee, Burn Flight Team clinical nurse officer in charge and Capt. Morgan Bobinski monitor a patient during the mission to Hawaii. (US Army Photo)

The Burn Flight Team (BFT) assigned to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston recently completed two missions to Kuwait and Hawaii. Within the last two months, the BFT at the only Department of Defense burn center transported a U.S. Air Force airman from Kuwait who suffered a high-voltage electrical injury while servicing an airfield generator. Soon thereafter, the BFT transported two Peruvian sailors from Hawaii to Texas. These sailors suffered severe thermal and inhalation injuries during a shipboard fire in the Pacific Ocean.

Capt. Mihye Lee, a critical care nurse in the Burn Intensive Care Unit (BICU) and newly appointed BFT clinical nurse officer in charge (CNOIC) deployed on both missions and says she is extremely grateful and honored to be part of the BFT.

"It is definitely a very unique opportunity that not many Army Nurse Officers get to experience in their careers," Lee said. "Not only is the Burn Flight Team the only critical care aeromedical transport team in the Army, but the Institute of Surgical Research is also the only burn center in the DoD; so I feel extremely fortunate to be able to be a part of the Team and to do burn patient care."

Some of Lee's operational tasks are to coordinate training and mission readiness of the BFT members, book commercial flights and lodging from San Antonio to their destinations and to ensure all necessary specialty medical equipment is packed and functioning, to name a few. Her main role is to provide direct patient care, a task which includes assessing patients upon arrival at their destination, preparing patients for the flight to San Antonio, and lastly provide care during the flight—normally on Air Force aircraft.

"It is extremely rewarding to be able to fly military aircraft and bring back injured patients from wherever they maybe on a moment's notice," she added. "I feel extremely grateful and honored to be a part of the Burn Flight Team."

Since its inception in 1951, BFT members are highly qualified, specialty trained personnel ready to deploy throughout the world to transport burn and critically ill patients (military and civilian) to the U.S. Army Burn Center.

The BFT has two teams ready to deploy within hours of notification. Each team consists of a burn physician, a critical care registered nurse, a licensed vocational nurse, a respiratory therapist and a forward operations noncommissioned officer. Depending on the mission, the BFT can deploy overseas or stateside to provide patients burn care while in flight. Additional capabilities include the ability to provide artificial lung (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO) and kidney replacement therapy in flight.

According to Maj. (Dr.) Garrett Britton, an Army internist who specializes in critical care medicine at the BICU, the airman transported from Kuwait is doing very well and has been discharged from the Burn Center. "The Peruvian sailors transported from Hawaii are progressing well and are currently being cared for in the BICU," he added.

The BFT will deploy anywhere in the world to transport not only patients with any type of burn injuries, but also other patients with life-threatening illness or diseases requiring care at the Burn Center. Britton said that the staff at the Burn Center also provide other types of assistance including remote consultation.

"If you are caring for a military beneficiary or dependent and are in need of burn care consultation, please reach out to us," he said.

The Burn Center has a dedicated phone line for consultations and questions at 210-222-BURN (2826). Additional information about the BFT can also be located at the Deployed Resources page of the USAISR website.