A look at day-to-day trauma operations at Brooke Army Medical Center

BAMC is a level one trauma center that serves both military and civilians, totaling about 2.2 million patients

SAN ANTONIO – Brooke Army Medical Center is celebrating 25 years of its level-one trauma verification. The medical facility is the only one with that designation for the Department of Defense.

San Antonio is home to the unique mission BAMC offers its military and civilian counterparts alike.

“From a military perspective, there is no other facility like BAMC. It’s the only hospital in the Department of Defense that’s also a level one trauma center, and that’s also integrated completely into the community where it sits,” said Col. Jason Bothwell, Chief Department of Emergency Medicine, BAMC.

The center is responsible for over a quarter of a million military beneficiaries around San Antonio and for about half of the city’s trauma mission, a level of coverage not seen anywhere else.

“They don’t do that at Walter Reed, they don’t do that at Naval Hospital, Bethesda, they don’t do that at Madigan. We only do it here, Brooke Army Medical Center,” said Bothwell.

BAMC serves 22 counties. Col. Bothell said that’s about 2.2 million patients that fall into the giant area that surrounds the Alamo City.

According to SAPD’S crime update, the city experienced an increase in crime in 2022, an increment also seen at BAMC’S emergency department.

Chief of trauma and surgical care, Timothy Nunez, said a 20 to 30-percent increase overall in volume.

We have also seen an increase of a couple percentage points of our penetrating trauma, which is, you know, the violence that you see in the news every day,” said Nunez.

On average, the team handles around 15 emergency visits daily or what they call activations, ranging from gunshot wounds to crashes and cuttings.

Three to Four of those patients are going to get an operation in their first 24 hours, and about 60% of them get admitted to our intensive care unit. So, every day there is sort of this high acuity flux that comes through the emergency department,” said Nunez.

What makes BAMC even more unique, it has the only rooftop Heli-pad in the department of defense. Bothwell said about 15% of their casualties arrive by air, and it’s roughly two to three minutes of high-stakes work.

“Multiple things must go right for the person to not decompensate, even in the short journey, “said Col. Bothwell.

With 64 emergency rooms, state-of-the-art equipment, and a highly trained trauma team, BAMC is ready to serve its community.

“The community needs to know that they live in, and they support the premier military, civilian collaboration in the country,” said Col. Bothwell.

About the Authors

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He’s a bilingual award-winning news reporter and he joined KSAT in 2021. Before coming to San Antonio, Cotto was reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas. He’s a veteran of the United States Navy.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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