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Resolute Sentinel 21: Biomedical equipment technician supports deployed medics in Honduras

U.S. military doctors arrived in Choluteca for a urologic surgical readiness exercise to provide essential surgeries to pre-selected Honduran patients.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Fonseca, a biomedical equipment technician with the 21st Medical Group, Perterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado, analyzes an anesthesia machine at Hospital del Sur in Choluteca, Honduras, May 19, 2021. U.S. military doctors arrived in Choluteca for a urologic surgical readiness exercise to provide essential surgeries to pre-selected Honduran patients. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford)

U.S. military doctors arrived in Choluteca for a urologic surgical readiness exercise to provide essential surgeries to pre-selected Honduran patients.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Fonseca, a biomedical equipment technician with the 21st Medical Group, Perterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado, fixes a pressure tube for an anesthesia machine at Hospital del Sur in Choluteca, Honduras, May 19, 2021. Resolute Sentinel 21 is a training opportunity with real world benefits to increase the U.S. military’s medical and operational readiness while helping local citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford)

U.S. military doctors arrived in Choluteca for a urologic surgical readiness exercise to provide essential surgeries to pre-selected Honduran patients.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Fonseca, a biomedical equipment technician with the 21st Medical Group, Perterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado, fixes an anesthesia machine at Hospital del Sur in Choluteca, Honduras, May 19, 2021. Military engagements like Resolute Sentinel 21 strengthen the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Honduras. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stanford)

CHOLUTECA, Honduras --

Biomedical equipment technician (BMET) training takes upwards of a year to ensure the technicians are fully equipped to handle most types of medical equipment they may see in their career.


U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Fonseca, a BMET with the 21st Medical Group, Perterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado, is using those skills to ensure medics deployed to Honduras operate with fully-functioning equipment.


“We wouldn't be able to do cases without an anesthesia machine, and they need frequent maintenance,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Schaffer, a pediatric anesthesiologist with the 59th Medical Wing, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. “We are very fortunate to have a BMET on the team here. We wouldn’t have made it into our first surgeries without him.”


While technical school and on-the-job training has prepared Fonseca for many types of equipment in the U.S., the equipment used in Hospital del Sur is much older than he has worked on previously, bringing its own set of obstacles.


“The equipment our doctors have been using here is decades older than we have in the U.S.,” said Fonseca. “While tubing and electronics are simpler on the machines, the age of the machines bring their own challenges along with being my first anesthesia machine since technical training.”


With a little elbow grease, Fonseca was able to get an additional anesthesia machine up and running as a back-up in case one of the other machines stops working. This allows surgeries to continue with little to no delay.


“Missions like this hit close to home because I’m from Mexico,” said Fonseca. “I know we are making a huge difference in these peoples’ lives, and I’m happy to help.”

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