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I am Navy Medicine: Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Chance Finley, Naval Hospital Bremerton

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Story by Douglas Stutz on 07/22/2019
"I am Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Chance Finley, assigned to Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB)."

Finley, from Albany, Ga. and a 2014 graduate of Albany Technical College with a degree in Paramedicine, was recently recognized as NHB's Junior Sailor of the Quarter.

"Congratulations on your selection and thanks for your hard work, dedication and superior performance," said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, NHB commanding officer.

Finley professed to be taken completely by surprise in being a recipient of such recognition,.

"My initial reaction to winning Junior Sailor of the Quarter was some disbelief and gratitude for the opportunity. It was a very humbling experience," Finley said.

It was approximately a year earlier that Finley began his Navy career in March, 2018, after becoming interested in Navy Medicine while working as a civilian paramedic.

"I sought more knowledge and exposure to medicine with the dream of becoming an emergency room (ER) doctor. The medical director/ER physician I worked under served as an ER doctor in the Navy and gave me insight and inspired me to pursue this goal," said Finley, adding that Navy Medicine has opened a multitude of opportunities to obtain further education, leadership, and a chance to inspire others to pursue their own dreams.

Finley is following his aspirations.

"The most exciting memory with Navy Medicine would have to be when I went on temporary assigned duty to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island with the Search and Rescue medical technicians. I was given the chance to see their duties and protocols as emergency medicine providers, experience aviation medicine, and even flew in the helicopter while suspended approximately 50 feet outside of the cabin," related Finley.

Finley attests that the best part of his career up to this point - has been learning under surgeons, having the opportunity to impart his paramedic knowledge/experience to others, and appreciating the leadership at Naval Hospital Bremerton.

"The most fun I've had would definitely be scrubbing in and assisting the surgeons. I am (also) currently in the process of entering the search and rescue medical technician training pipeline as well as completing my bachelor's degree. The end goal is to become an emergency medicine physician," Finley shared.

But for the past few months, Finley was about as far removed from his normal duties and any Navy installation as possible.
He was on temporary assigned duty to the Black Hills of South Dakota providing Navy Medicine support for Army National Guard field exercises.

The training was designed to hone field skills in austere surroundings similar to Central Asia and there were several objectives that corpsmen like Finley were entrusted to accomplish during their time assigned there.

"It was a great opportunity and served as an excellent learning experience. Integrating with the Army provided instruction and leadership opportunities as well," related Finley.

Finley was able to expand his medical knowledge by working in an environment similar to what might be experienced in the field as a fleet marine force corpsman or as an independent duty corpsman away from a well-staffed hospital like NHB. He got to work with and see how the Army practices field medicine for future reference if deployed on joint service medical missions and facilities.

Some of the field exercises had Finley operating relatively autonomously as well as with a small team. He also worked side-by-side on a daily basis with both junior and senior Army medics and physician assistants to provide needed medical care to any patient in need, as well as receive instruction, guidance and hands-on experience in the joint environment.

Finley was required to attend Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) prior to JFE. TCCC is a specifically designed challenging course built to help the corpsman think about his or her surroundings, be able to focus under stress, and ensure that the correct medical treatment is provided in a simulated combat environment. Even bolstered with that training, the involvement in JFE was scaled back to concentrate primarily on providing direct medical support.

"A typical day revolved around morning sick call, followed by routine medication distribution and patient evaluation following the meals throughout the day. On certain days I was allowed to instruct candidates on their own personal preventative medical care and even TCCC protocol instruction. The end of the day was evening sick call as well," explained Finley.

During field exercises, the corpsmen split into one or two-person teams to man various medical posts, concerned with any possible signs of heat-stress, injury, fatigue, and illness.

"There were certain evolutions I took part like the nine-mile ruck, five-mile company run, and 12-mile ruck. I once integrated to a small forward operating base, which was a more field-medicine type experience and also performed water-testing/treatment," Finley said.

Whether preparing for deployment to the South Pacific or supporting a field exercise in South Dakota, it was all in a day's work for Finley and the other corpsmen.

That collective caring and concern by a corpsman like Finley is a testament to the Navy's surgeon general recent declaration that with a renewed emphasis on readiness, the Navy will continue to rely on them to serve in scores of environments supporting the warfighter by utilizing the most advanced technology and sciences.

"I am contributing to readiness by performing my daily duties to patients and fellow Sailors to the best of my ability. I am serving as an assistant command fitness leader, supply petty officer, work center supervisor, pursuing my bachelor's degree in health sciences, obtaining my board certified flight paramedic, and most of all leading others through any opportunity possible whether they work directly with me or not," said Finley.

When asked to sum up his experience in one sentence, Finley noted that, "Navy Medicine is not for the faint of heart. It is for the person who is willing to give their all and place others before self."

Service before self, fueled by drive, discipline, and determination. Such intangible traits are why Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Christopher Chance Finley was acknowledged as NHB's Junior Sailor of the Quarter.


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