Ship’s doc mantains health and wellness aboard SPAR



Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Flor serves as the independent duty health services technician or “doc” aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR, homeported in Kodiak, Alaska.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Flor is a health services technician aboard the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR. Flor, an Owatonna, Minn., native, has been in the Coast Guard for 12 years, 10 of those have been spent in the HS rate. Flor has been aboard SPAR for about two and a half years.

There are about 60 independent duty health services technicians underway on Coast Guard cutters nationwide. Aboard the ship Flor’s role as the IDHS is to manage the health of the crew. Being the ship’s doc is demanding and requires a lot of patience and prevention. Flor takes the responsibility very seriously whether giving IVs to seasick crewmen, boosting morale or escorting a shipmate on a small boat 40 miles upriver in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to be treated for a severed finger that occurred on the job.

“It will be the most demanding job you will have as an HS, but it will also be the most gratifying,” said Flor.

His duties include; assessing and preventing occupational hazards, food service safety, emergency treatment procedures, conducting routine sick call, health and safety related training and general master-at-arms duties. The health, safety, and medical readiness of the crew are important due to the fact that the crew must be able to perform their mission and Coast Guardsmen are required to be deployable worldwide at any given time.

“The difference between a clinic HS and an underway HS is the amount of responsibilities,” said Flor. “An IDHS is the sole provider of health care, both medical and dental, and the giver of constant medical advice.”

Buoy deck operations at the pier

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR load buoys aboard the ship prior to deployment to conduct local aids to navigation near Kodiak Island, Tuesday. Nov. 20, 2012.

In addition Flor is the master-at-arms, serves as junior officer of the day by assisting the officer of the day in navigating the ship, and participates on the safety board, training board and morale board. He’s also a rigger on the buoy deck by choice and enjoys working alongside the rest of the crew to conduct aids to navigation missions.

Flor initially joined the Coast Guard for the college benefits and to travel around the U.S., but it ended up being an even better adventure than he originally thought and he’s very passionate about his family and providing for their future. Flor is going to the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw in Michigan for his next tour of duty.

“As an HS, it is not often that we do back to back afloat tours,” he said. “It is not a requirement to advance, but it doesn’t hurt to bank a little sea time. YES, I am excited! Michigan and the Great Lakes will be an exciting chapter of my Coast Guard career and the Mackinaw is close to home and it offers the ideal lifestyle my family is accustomed to.”

When I have someone address me as doc I hear “you are the one I entrust my life with. When I am sick or injured, I place my trust in you to make me well. When the lines are cast off and we once again sail into harm’s way, I trust you to bring me back to my family. I trust you to bring my husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, sister, or brother back to meet me on the pier once again”. The title “doc” is a term of endearment which is earned not given; especially when used on those who do not have a Doctor of Medicine degree. – Master Chief Petty Officer Glenn Royes, Health Service Technician Rating Force Master Chief

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