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Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Tantama, Emergency Medicine Physician, Charlie Surgical Company, 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Forward), 1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD) holds the Afghan baby whose life was saved by him and his team.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Rebecca Burgess

C Surg. Company saves baby’s life

27 Sep 2010 | 2nd Lt. Rebecca Burgess

A helo rapidly approached the tent where a team of medical professionals from Charlie Surgical Company, 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15 (Forward), 1st Marine Logistics Group (FWD) waited for the controlled chaos to begin.

Just after dinner, Sept. 27, a call was received regarding a one-month-old Afghan baby who was having an allergic reaction causing him to stop breathing.

After watching the helo approach in what Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Tantama, the officer in charge, described as a “’it’s hit the fan’ flying pattern,” the worst was expected.

A Corpsman entered the tent with a limp, unresponsive baby in his arms.

The team immediately got to work, each taking control within their own specialty. Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Berry, the pediatric anesthesiologist, was at the head of the bed with a ventilating bag trying to help with breathing, while Lt. Cmdr. Lora Martin, head emergency room nurse, placed an IV in the small, lifeless arm.

“This is not good,” Martin, from North Platte, Neb., thought to herself.

Despite the team’s quick and solid efforts, there was still no response coming from the baby.

“Glucose. Fluids. Antibotics. No change,” recalled Tantama, an emergency medicine physician from Coral Springs, Fla.

Then, Tantama thought to give the baby Narcan, an antidote to narcotics.

“Like magic, his eyes are wide open and he’s moving around with a strong robust cry,” said Tantama, 33.

The baby was actually first pronounced dead by a local physician. The heartbroken family gathered to bury the baby when, for a brief moment, he started to breathe. That was when they sought outside care eventually ending up at our tent, said Tantama.

According to Tantama, the mother of the baby at first didn’t believe the miracle. It wasn’t until she saw a video the next morning that it settled in.

The quick thinking by Tantama and the team effort put in by those aboard C Surg. Company saved this baby’s family from living through another tragedy.

The baby’s father, a policeman, had recently been murdered by the Taliban, said Tantama.

This family is not the first to have their lives changed in a positive way by these medical personnel; these men and women are providing front-line medical care to those injured in combat.

According to Tantama, their mission is “to provide health support to forward deployed [International Security Assistance Forces]…to provide Level II ‘damage control’ for combat injuries.”

It is easy for Afghans to reach out and receive medical care, said Martin. It’s “most of what we see at Delaram. They can come to the front gate and get screened; we see almost all.”

The medical personnel in C Surg. Company are dedicated to providing top-of-the-line medical care to all those who need their help, such as the young baby they saved.

“Anyone who walks into our tent receives the best care we can provide,” said Tantama.


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