Medics ‘cowboy up’ for CFD

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jason Wiese
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Cheyenne Frontier Days Daddy of 'em All Rodeo competitors spend time in the fast-paced, unpredictable world of animals weighing thousands of pounds. In this world, severe injuries are a possibility.

Cowboys and cowgirls at CFD know that when they get bucked into the dirt, they have a team of specially trained medical providers there to patch them up: the Cowboy Medics.

The Cowboy Medics provide emergency medical services to anyone in Frontier Park who needs it during CFD, keeping a special eye out for rodeo-related injuries, said Tech. Sgt. Joni Lacenta, 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical evacuation technician.

"We're pre-positioned at spots around the arena to make sure we have quick access with boards and bags," she said.

Lacenta and other Cowboy Medics show up before rodeo starts and set up medical stations and prepare for the huge crowds CFD draws, she said.

The old adage: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is not lost on the medics. They are available at CFD to hand out sunscreen and water to spectators to ward off summertime health problems, Lacenta said.

They can handle almost any medical situation, from a young child scraping her knee, to broken bones and diabetic emergencies, she said.

While they are trained to handle medical emergencies by the Air Force, the Airmen must also get emergency medical technician certification from the state of Wyoming before they can serve as Cowboy Medics.

Medical personnel typically have a love for helping those in need in general, and many of the Cowboy Medics are especially fond of rodeos, so being a cowboy medic suits them very well, she explained.

"Being a total Airman is about being a total person," she said.

Some take leave to volunteer with the medics instead of vacationing. Some love it so much they cross an ocean to be back in Cheyenne, Wyo., for the rodeo.

Master Sgt. Rebekah Virtue, 48th Medical Operations Squadron Pediatrics Flight chief Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, has been a cowboy medic at each Cheyenne Frontier Days for 10 years now. She was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., for the first three; Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, for another three years; and this CFD makes the fourth one she has come back from RAF Lakenheath, she said.

"I love it," Virtue said. "This is like home to me, and this is like a family reunion."

When the medics are not reuniting with one another, they are reuniting cowboys with their beloved rodeo.

Tony Larsen, Sheridan, Wyo., steer wrestler competitor in the 2014 CFD Daddy of 'em All rodeo, said the Cowboy Medics taped his ankle at a pre-CFD event to help him overcome foot pain so he could continue to ride horses and wrestle steers.

"They were awesome -- very social and just a good group of people," he said.

Larsen said the Cowboy Medics were very professional and good at their jobs.

A love for the rodeo and for Cheyenne runs deep with the Cowboy Medics, and this fact is not lost on Col. (Ret.) Scott Fox, Cheyenne Frontier Days Military Committee chairman.

"These volunteers come out because they want to," he said. "They, along with all our volunteers, make the show go."