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Pocket-sized Innovation

A female poses for a photo near the urgent care tunnel at the 35th Medical Group.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julia DaSilva, the 35th Medical Group COVID Cell flight chief, pauses for a photo at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 11, 2020. DaSilva designed a pocket-sized Basic Life Support algorithm to be worn with her medical group badge as a quick-reference tool in administering life-saving measures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jao’Torey Johnson)

A female in uniform holds up a basic life support card.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Julia DaSilva, the 35th Medical Group COVID Cell flight chief, shows her pocket-sized Basic Life Support (BLS) algorithm at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Nov. 11, 2020. DaSilva designed a pocket-sized Basic Life Support (BLS) algorithm to be worn with her medical group badge as a quick-reference tool in administering life-saving measures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jao’Torey Johnson)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

The first few moments are vital when it comes to administering life-saving emergency medical care. Refresher training for Basic Life Support (BLS) is required every two years to maintain certification, but anyone could be thrust into a difficult situation with someone’s life in their hands at any moment. In a life-threatening emergency, forgetting the proper procedures to administer could be a major problem.

This very problem occurred to a Misawa Airman during a BLS refresher course where she realized how beneficial it would be to have a quick-reference tool for individuals, especially those who don’t have regular exposure to life-saving measures.

Staff Sgt. Julia DaSilva, the 35th Medical Group COVID Cell flight chief, designed a pocket-sized BLS algorithm small enough to be worn and carried easily.

“I was in my Basic Life Support class, and I was thinking we really need something that we can have hands-on every day that explains basic life support,” DaSilva said. “While I was going through the different cards on my Medical Group badge, I decided that would be a great place to have those procedures to ensure it’s always on my person.”

After the BLS course, DaSilva researched information and references from the Red Cross’s website to assure accuracy and used her ingenuity to graph the BLS algorithm onto a pocket-sized card.

The BLS algorithm provides step-by-step instructions on what to do in an emergency situation where an individual is unresponsive.

While DaSilva is confident in her ability to provide basic life support, there are Airmen who don’t have her level of experience.

The 35th Maintenance Group is ordering their pocket-sized BLS algorithm, and according to Chief Master Sgt. Wenesday Traylor, the superintendent of the 35th Maintenance Group, leadership is thrilled.

“We were very impressed and loved the idea,” said Traylor. “Thanks to Staff Sgt. DaSilva for being innovative and for caring about people.”

The positive feedback encouraged DaSilva to seek additional support for her project.

“Originally, I went through my continuous process improvement team in the medical group, and they helped me get on track for getting the pocket-size BLS algorithm to all of the 35th Medical Group,” DaSilva said. “I also submitted it through the Air Force Surgeon General Disruptive Innovation Program, and that’s when it gained national recognition.”

She received a phone call from the Surgeon General office applauding her creation. They intend to distribute it across the Department of Defense, and the American Red Cross plans to also push it nation-wide.

Once the compact tool DaSilva created is fully integrated by all interested agencies, it could have a big impact with the potential to be utilized as a guide by tens of millions of individuals.

“I can see people using this to save millions of lives,” DaSilva said. “I never expected it to be able to reach so many people, so it is truly beyond a dream come true.”