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.”