From battlefield to ER: Health care worker at Raleigh hospital draws on combat experience

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Health care workers are on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, and when it comes to battle, a Raleigh emergency room worker has plenty of experience. 

Staff Sgt. Kyle Wooten proudly serves his country as a combat engineer in the Army Reserve. He’s grown accustomed to the danger of working in a war zone.

 “At first, there was that fear, that, ‘Oh wow, I might die today’,” but after that you kind of get used to it,” Wooten said.

Seeing others fight for their lives led him down a path he didn’t expect.

“I got a chance to work with some of the medics helping our wounded soldiers and wounded Afghan soldiers as well,” he said. “There was an exciting and thrilling factor, then there was the fact that I’m helping this guy and I might potentially be able to save his life.”  

That eventually led Wooten to the emergency department at WakeMed North Hospital where he now works as a Certified Nurse Aide.  

“Combat engineers, we look for roadside bombs; we’re going out there. There’s a potential we might get blown up,” he explained.  “Working in the emergency room, we have to be fast on our  feet to try and help this person, so it’s adrenaline from two different sides.”

Wooten recently surprised his coworkers after returning from his latest deployment to the Middle East. When he last worked in the hospital, no had even heard of COVID-19.  

Wooten will soon be back in the emergency department joining healthcare workers across the world in the battle against the virus.

 “I really don’t see myself as a heroic figure. I see it as I’m doing my job. It’s like my coworkers and my fellow soldiers are doing our jobs,” said Wooten. “I see the friends that gave up their life as the heroes.”

He is grateful to be home and grateful for what he’s learned and can pass on to others.  

Wooten says compassion is the most important quality.

“Compassion, because you have no idea where that person is coming from, the things they’ve experienced during their life,” he said. “It’s always important to be compassionate and empathetic.”

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