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From circuits to circulation, Arizona Guardsman reflects on two careers

Tech. Sgt. Kirk Anderson, 161st Medical Group aerospace medical service technician, administers an influenza immunization to an Airman at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix, Oct. 4. As an Air Force medic, Anderson debrides wounds, sutures, and administers medications, as well as inserts IV’s, catheters, and oral feeding tubs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

Tech. Sgt. Kirk Anderson, 161st Medical Group aerospace medical service technician, administers an influenza immunization to an Airman at the 161st Air Refueling Wing, Phoenix, Oct. 4. As an Air Force medic, Anderson debrides wounds, sutures, and administers medications, as well as inserts IV’s, catheters, and oral feeding tubs. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

PHOENIX -- As a part-time medic in the Arizona Air National Guard and a full-time application consultant for Yavapi Regional Medical Center, Tech. Sgt. Kirk Anderson finds crossover between his two very different jobs.

"As a civilian, I work on computers and in the military I work on people," he said.

The Guardsman, assigned to the 161st Medical Group here, is an aerospace medical service technician.  As a civilian, he functions as a project manager for computer applications.

"There is some correlation between computers and humans. I still assess, triage, and troubleshoot a problem," said Anderson. "Then I loop back and make sure my interventions resolved the issue."

The 11-year veteran says his ability to recognize a concern, process it, and implement a solution parallels the crucial skills needed for saving lives in the military.

Air Force medics train at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. Their scope of practice is slightly greater in the military as compared to a civilian EMT and includes immunizations, debriding wounds, suturing, advanced airways, administering medications, and wound care. They can also insert IV's, catheters, and oral feeding tubs. They set up tents for anything from a small clinic to a full surgical trauma unit.

"It's amazing to be part of the lifesaving process," said Anderson. "We receive [wounded service members] directly from theatre, having just survived an IED attack, with full extremity injuries. To see the look in their eyes when you tell them they are safe in Germany, not waking up in combat...it's just incredible. It's the reason we do what we do."