In austere battlefield environments, flight medics serve an important role in providing life support at the point of injury and assisting in the transport of critically injured patients to further medical treatments and care. Ricky Ditzel served in the U.S. Army for 8 years and spent the first half of his career working as an airborne infantry medic in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. As a flight medic deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, he worked overseas in a variety of austere, prolonged field care, and mass casualty environments to treat point-of-injury patients and provide en route care.
The second half of his Army career was with the U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command as a special operations medic, where he performed many roles. Ricky has also served as a section editor for the Journal of High Threat and Austere Medicine, a peer-reviewed research journal focused on advancing the field of austere medicine. Through his interest in bringing the learned practices and experiences of casualty care into the civilian sector, he served on the Board of Advisors for the Committee Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC). This group creates guidance for treatment of injuries in high-risk and emergency situations in the civilian environment.
Ricky continues to be committed to helping patients in need. Two days after being honorably discharged from the military in 2020, he joined many military Veterans in standing up a COVID-19 field hospital in New York, where he served as the Clinical Operations Director. Following this, he continued to Milstein Hospital in New York City as the Tracheostomy Care Team leader for COVID-19 patients. In the same year, Ricky’s contributions to the medical community are also highlighted in his service as a Peer Reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) Combat Readiness-Medical Research Program (CRRP)’s inaugural program cycle for fiscal year 2019. The CRRP funds many research topics, including traumatic brain injury, toxic inhalation, toxic metal exposure, hemorrhage control solutions, and artificial intelligence. Despite being a military-focused program, a key feature of the CRRP is the strong parallel to civilian trauma care.
“The CRRP helps bridge the language barrier between the military and civilian sectors,” Ricky said. “The research the CRRP conducts translates to civilian problem sets as much as the military.”
He hopes future CRRP efforts will continue to fund research positively impacting the lives of Service Members on and off the battlefield. Ricky said, “War trauma is not left on the battlefield, and the CRRP is able to fund programs that enhance the quality of life for many.”
In January 2021, Ricky enrolled in the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program at Columbia University and aims to attend medical school after graduation. In addition to his dedication to his studies, he continues to remain committed to improving the lives of those in need. After the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, he served as a Clinical Site Director at an at-risk refugee camp in Afghanistan. There he helped establish a telemedicine network for Afghan women and children called, Task Force Mom. Ricky’s commitment to providing care and support to all embodies the selfless service of our Warfighter and consumer community.
The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision.
Last updated Thursday, August 25, 2022