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Academy nurse anesthetists 'never miss a beat'

Maj. Stacey Blottiaux places a tracheal breathing tube for a patient while Capt. Russell Wolbers assists during a training scenario at the Air Force Academy Clinic Jan. 18. Major Blottiaux and Captain Wolbers are certified registered nurse anesthetists with the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Maj. Stacey Blottiaux places a tracheal breathing tube for a patient while Capt. Russell Wolbers assists during a training scenario at the Air Force Academy Clinic Jan. 18. Major Blottiaux and Captain Wolbers are certified registered nurse anesthetists with the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Certified registered nurse anesthetists from the Air Force Academy Clinic and thousands from across the country will tell America, "We never miss a beat," as they celebrate the 11th-annual National Nurse Anesthetist Week celebration Jan. 24-30.

This year's catchphrase, "We never miss a beat," touts the quality of care that nurse anesthetists pride themselves on providing patients. To provide the safest anesthesia possible, nurse anesthetists remain by their patients' sides every moment of their procedure, monitoring their vital signs to help ensure a comfortable and safe anesthesia experience.

"As anesthesia providers, it is important to be aware of every heartbeat, every breath, and be ready to quickly respond if necessary," said Maj. Stacey Blottiaux, anesthesia element leader at the Academy clinic. "That's why CRNAs are so proud to belong to a profession that has maintained a sterling record of providing patient-safety for more than 150 years."

The Academy Clinic has six CRNAs assigned to the 10th Surgical Operations Squadron. Locally, they administer general, regional and local anesthetics in a three-room surgical suite, directly supporting general surgery, orthopedics, podiatry, ear-nose-throat and ophthalmology. While deployed, CRNAs focus on replacing traumatically injured patients' blood volume and blood clotting capability and stabilizing their cardiovascular functions.

"Deploying as a CRNA was the most professionally rewarding experience I've had to date," said Capt. Russell Wolbers, a CRNA with the Academy who helped save patients' lives during trauma surgeries while deployed to the Air Force Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

Nurse anesthetists are advanced practice nurses who administer approximately 30 million anesthetics in the United States each year. Practicing in every setting where anesthesia is delivered, CRNAs are the primary anesthesia providers in rural hospitals, and have been the main provider of anesthesia care to servicemembers on the front lines since World War I.

"It is a privilege to be a part of a profession with a focal point that is dedicated to providing patient safety," Captain Wolbers said. "Historically, CRNAs have played a considerable role in advancing trends related to monitoring technology, anesthetic drugs, and patient education. In fact, anesthesia today is nearly 50 times safer than it was in the early 1980s."

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