Chaplains offer spiritual healing at Osan hospital
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Medics arrive on the scene of a mass casualty. They work to provide enough aid to transport the team to the hospital where more extensive care can be given. Once there, the injured Airmen are categorized into one of four groups: minimal, suffering only bumps and bruises; delayed, wounded but walking; immediate, severely wounded in need and of medical care; and expectant, unable to be helped.
An Airman lies on a stretcher as the doctor assesses the extent of his burns. As the chaplain walks in and sees the situation, he knows this one is for him.
Chaplains play a huge role in the hospital during times of war. They give hope and comfort in the last minutes of the lives of those expected to die.
"During wartime, we provide care and ministry to the critically injured," said Chaplain (Maj.) Robert Borger, 51st Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain. "We spend their last moments with them, providing care, to give them a view to that window of hope."
With doctors so busy and having access to only limited resources, chaplains care for the dying and wounded with spiritual healing, he said.
"It's a somber moment, from a soul-care perspective, when someone dies," Borger said. "It is so terrible when a young person has been robbed of a full life, but we are there to help them process a way to find hope before they do."
Some of the services provided by chaplains, if patients are coherent, are last rites, baptism, prayer, council or just a hand to hold and an ear to listen.
"When they come in, they won't have their spouses or their best friends with them," he explained. "They are alone and you are gifted those last moments with them,"
The chaplain explained that although it is a great blessing, it is a very demanding responsibility and comes at a cost.
"It takes a lot out of you when you give yourself fully for those few last minutes. They need you, so you feel every second," he paused, "and they are a full few minutes."
During exercises here, chaplains demonstrate their ability to comfort patents at the Garden Court, Osan's triage unit. There, role players, often times first-term Airmen, are tasked to play a role where they are going to die. Sometimes, Borger explained, it catches up with them.
Airman 1st Class Charles Nicholls, 51st Maintenance Squadron crew chief, was one of the role players in the Garden Court.
"It was really nice to see how the chaplains came and tried to make me feel more comfortable by seeing how I was doing and if I wanted water or a pillow," Nicholls said. "The chaplain speaking to me took my mind off the situation. If I was actually in the situation of someone seriously injured, I think it would be comforting just knowing someone was there for me."