Cincinnati--Jay Johannigman, MD, associate professor of surgery,
Division of Trauma and Critical Care at the University of Cincinnati
(UC) College of Medicine, served as the designated surgeon on President
Clinton's visit to Southeast Asia recently.
Paul Carlton, Jr., Surgeon General of the U.S. Air Force Medical
Service, selected Johannigman to be a part of a supplemental medical
team that went to Vietnam to provide provisional medical care for
President Clinton on his 10-day trip. Johannigman served in the Air
Force and remains a member of the active Air Force Reserves.
was the experience of a lifetime," Johannigman said. "It was great to
see the country of Vietnam and to experience what goes into a
presidential trip. It was also a great military experience to work
alongside my active duty colleagues."
The White House Medical
Unit, comprised of physicians and nurses who care for the president,
are joined by a special Air Force Medical Team, SPEARR (Small Portable
Expedition Aeromedical Rapid Response team), whenever the president
travels to a remote country. SPEARR comprises a five-person surgical
unit and a three-person critical care transport unit. The five-member
surgical unit consists of a surgeon (Johannigman), orthopedic surgeon,
emergency medicine physician, anesthesiologist and an operating room
(OR) technician. The critical care transport unit has the capability of
moving a critically ill patient onboard Air Force One.
hour of meeting each other, the SPEARR team knew what positions and
what roles we were going to play," Johannigman said. "They know their
jobs so well that although we came from different Air Force Bases in
Texas, Mississippi, Maryland and Ohio, I had no doubts if we had been
pressed to do anything, that we would have been able to take care of
the patients." The team, stationed in President Clinton's hotel, set up
a full operating room in an adjacent hotel suite where two medical
professionals were stationed in the room at all times and even slept
there in case an emergency situation arose.
"Our purpose was
simply to provide additional surgical care," Johannigman said. "The
idea is that we can walk into any circumstance and within 30 minutes
have an OR set up and be capable of performing in a surgical emergency.
That's why the White House wanted us along."
Johannigman, his military experiences influence the direction of his
medical career. Johannigman accepted a military scholarship in order to
afford medical school. "A number of medical students are in the
military scholarship program," he said. "If you can't afford medical
school, military scholarships are one way to pay for it. This medical
center has a very proud tradition of serving in the Reserves."
his residency training at UC, he spent four years on active duty in the
Air Force from 1990-1994 before returning to the university as faculty.
military experiences are complementary to what I do as a civilian," he
said. "Being a trauma surgeon in the civilian world I don't see some of
the things I have seen in the military. For example, I've operated
inside a tent in Bosnia, which is different to what I am accustomed to
in the trauma bay at The University Hospital." Johannigman also spent
four months of his active duty serving in the Gulf War.
Johannigman has a unique opportunity to draw from an abundance of resources for medical information.
see equipment that we are looking at using in the military that we have
not yet seen on the civilian side, and vice versa. I can show the
military the tools that I'm seeing in my civilian practice that they
have not yet seen. I would not trade that opportunity for the world,"
President Clinton's mission abroad focused on the
exploration of the Crash Recovery Site in Vietnam, an hour outside of
the city of Hanoi. The Crash Recovery Site is the historical area where
aircrafts and bodies of American pilots were never recovered or crashes
were never confirmed at the time of the Vietnam War.