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Robins Opens Air Force's First Flight Line Clinic

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Robins officials unveiled a flight line medical clinic Tuesday that they say is the first of its kind in the Air Force.

The 2,000-square-foot facility is located in the rear of an F-15 maintenance hangar. It will specialize in providing first aid for injured workers, as well as rehabilitation services and preventive medicine.

It's called FAST FORWARD, which stands for First Aid Station, Treatment and Forward Operating Rehabilitation of Workers Accentuating Restorative Dynamics.

That's a mouthful, said Brig. Gen. Cedric George, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, but it sums up the clinic's intent.

"This is all about your people," he said. "We believe in our people. They come first."

A few years ago the base opened a medical clinic just outside the flight line to bring care closer to the workers, and the new facility will be a satellite clinic that will bring it even closer.

The facility is located in what used to be a shop for working on F-15 tubing and paneling. That shop was moved to another location, with more ergonomically correct equipment for the workers.

Col. Michael Rappa, the 78th Medical Group's chief of occupational medicine, said the clinic will help workers get treatment faster, which is important to making sure the injury does not turn into something more serious.

"The time from an injury to seeking care is important to recovery," he said.

Previously if workers needed care, they would have to traverse the expansive flight line to the clinic across the road or go to the main medical clinic on the other side of the base. The new facility also will have a golf cart that can pick up people who need care.

George said the clinic came about from an event in which the base looks at how it can operate more efficiently. He said it was a joint effort with the union and the Voluntary Protection Program and happened relatively quickly and at a low cost, $175,000.

Ron Robertson, vice president of maintenance in the union, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and called the clinic "awesome."

He said when workers had to go to the base clinic, they might have to wait two or three hours to receive care. That would lead many to avoid seeking treatment when they might need it. He believed the flight line clinic will mean people will more readily seek treatment, and it will also reduce traffic at the main medical facility.

"It's going to be good for the whole base," he said.

Also, the clinic is exclusively for those who work in the Air Logistics Complex, which is not the case with the other two clinics.

The center will have extended hours and a six-person staff that includes a nurse practitioner, who has training beyond that of a registered nurse, and three rehabilitation specialists. George said an important aspect of the clinic is not only treating the injured but promoting preventive medicine. For example, people who work in jobs requiring repetitive motion can go the clinic and get advice on what they can do to avoid developing physical problems.

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