Theodore's World: Teen Medic Thrives on Aiding Others

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July 26, 2009

Teen Medic Thrives on Aiding Others

Army Spc. Amanda Cleveland, a medic for the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, describes the importance of pressure in stopping blood loss during first-aid training at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. Cleveland has trained nearly 1,000 soldiers in Task Force Keystone leading up to and during a nine-month deployment to Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Waltz

Army Spc. Amanda Cleveland, a medic for the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, shows Army Sgt. Seth Cantler how to hold the needle while he “sticks” Army Spc. Christopher Leonard during combat lifesaver training at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James Waltz

Teen Medic Thrives on Aiding Others

Army Sgt. James Waltz serves in the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade public affairs office


July 24, 2009

Army Spc. Amanda Cleveland is a self-described simple girl who is "not into drama." But it’s tough for an Army medic to avoid dramatic situations, especially during a deployment to Iraq.

Cleveland’s comrades say it is her ability to consistently help people -- not the drama -- that drives the Williamsport, Pa., native to excel at her job.

Cleveland graduated from high school in 2007 at 17 and immediately took on basic combat training and combat medical school.

"I really wanted to go into the medical field and wasn't sure how I was going to do it," she said. "A recruiter was able to get me into the health care field and give me a $20,000 bonus on top of it."

Cleveland was 18 when her six months of rigorous medical training began. She admits being a bit nervous.

"It was the longest time I had ever been away from my family," she said. "I don't know if I could have graduated if it had not been for a few older friends I had made who shared their previous experiences with me."

While at training, she learned the ins-and-outs of emergency medicine and basic medical skills. She recalled one exercise, which she called "blood lanes."

"We went through these blood lanes where we had to treat mock casualties in a stressful environment," she explained. "It was fast-paced training, and we had to deal with them screaming, among other things."

Cleveland went through similar training at the regional medical training site at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., in preparation for her nine-month deployment here, where she is serving with Task Force Keystone.

Leading up to the three-month, pre-deployment mobilization, she was one of several medics tasked with training 28th Combat Aviation Brigade soldiers in basic combat medical skills. The training allows each soldier to act as a bridge between an emergency and the arrival of a medic -- often the most critical time in ensuring a patient's survival.

Her supervisor, Army Sgt. 1st Class Collin Bowser of Indiana, Pa., said Cleveland is extremely proficient at medical training.

"She has done an excellent job teaching several hundred soldiers the basics of first aid," he said. "And these are mostly soldiers who are novices at this stuff and have minimal medical experience."
Cleveland is humble about her teaching ability, but is quick to acknowledge the importance of it. "I really enjoy teaching, but it's not always easy keeping a student's attention because I'm not a dominating person," she said. "I just keep reminding myself that what I am teaching these soldiers will not only affect them, but also the people they may have to save. I may be helping my students save a life."

Cleveland is the primary instructor of the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade’s first aid refresher course here, which is taught monthly to a rotation of soldiers. When she is not training, she is receiving clinical experience in her unit's medical clinic. She takes vital signs, screens patients, performs asthma treatments and stitches sutures.

During her 12-hour shifts, she uses downtime to write home. Many soldiers here use e-mail, but Cleveland prefers to put pen to paper.

"I like to physically write letters for two reasons. First, some of my family members are technologically impaired," she joked. "But really it just feels more personal. It feels good to have that letter in your hand, knowing there was more time and energy put into it."

Wild Thing's comment........

What a great story about an amzing Army Spc. Amanda Cleveland.

Posted by Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 06:48 AM


She's kinda cute too. I know an un-attached Corporal at Camp Liberty.....

Posted by: Jim at July 26, 2009 10:59 AM

Outstanding story WT. Talent and beauty, what a combo!!! She can make a blood draw anytime on me.

I spent most of my career on remote sites or in some obscure rectal area of the world, where doctors are few and far between. There was supposed to be a doctor on site at all times but that was often supplanted with an aid, a medic. Where's the Doc? Oh he had to attend a meeting in town and couldn't be here for a few days was the mantra. Truth was the Doctors were too refined to stay in the bush when their lucrative clients were all in civilized areas. Self reliance and our own first responder training was the norm.

Medics never quit being medics, it seems it gets in their blood. Back in '86 I had a crew of unusual men, most my age or better, contractors mostly from the gulf area of Texas and Louisiana. They were a group that had worked jobs all around the world, all had worked the Persian Gulf and Saudi oil fields, I was fortunate to have spent a few months with them. George was one of the best techs I'd ever been around, I turned him loose on the fabrication site, if we'd have had fuel we'd have fired up two huge GE turbines on site, his assigned responsibility.

George was sick a lot but never missed a day, his buddy was former medic, a Marine Corpsman. I found that George was terminal with lung cancer and had an aspiration tube inserted to drain fluids off the lung, that medic buddy tended to him as his personal doctor, making sure he had no infection and was properly draining the fluids. Normally I'd have had to report that to my superiors and possibly lose George, a good friend and worker, I honored his wishes and kept my yap shut, he knew he didn't have long and only wanted to build a nest egg for his wife. He went North and worked the setup and start up of the equipment, some 6 - 7 more months. He went out on R&R in February of '87 and never came back , we called his wife only to find that George had passed on. My crew at the time didn't know he was in such bad shape, still it came as a shock. That medic buddy had kept him alive for the past 8 - 10 months or more through selfless dedication. My own favorite "doctor" was a Korean War medic, an old boozer. Don never BS'd me or condemned my smoking or drinking at the time and his decisions were as weighty as the real doctor, he just didn't have the degree.

All medics have my respect,it's their ingrained dedication to saving lives.

George had one quote that I still like, everyone bitches and bellyaches, his response was "shut up and take the money". Knowing him, that was one hell of an inspiration to us all.

Posted by: Jack at July 26, 2009 12:14 PM

Sounds like a very sharp young woman. Looks like she needs to be promoted.
Our team medics sure did'nt look that good.

Posted by: Dave Hancock at July 26, 2009 12:40 PM

I am glad to see the Army giving basic medical updates and refreshers to all the troops. Soldiers should be training most of the time they are not on missions.

Amanda has the attitude of above and beyond I saw in almost all the Army and Air Force medics I dealt with. Like Jack, I always respected these folks for their devoted and caring services. Amanda has great ambition and has started her medical career early and wisely. Whatever her future, in or out of the military, I wish her well.

Posted by: TomR at July 26, 2009 12:43 PM

What a Movie! The only problem is finding anyone in Hollywood who could play her or the people around her.

Posted by: Avitar at July 26, 2009 03:12 PM

Jim, giggle that is great.
Yes she is adroable.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 11:34 PM

Jack, that was a great story, thank you
for sharing about George.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 11:36 PM

Dave, I bet she has a lot of fans
in the service.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 11:40 PM

Tom, I agree, I love her passion and that
she started early makes it even better for

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 11:42 PM

Avitar, smiling, yes and I would hate
for anyone to play her that did not
support our troops.

Posted by: Wild Thing at July 26, 2009 11:44 PM