Vern Buchanan military base medical readiness measure passed following soldier’s death
After the death of Nicholas Panipinto, Vern Buchanan is calling for better training on military transportation equipment. Image via Buchanan's office.

Nicholas Panipinto died after it took hours to receive appropriate medical care.

Emergency medical services on U.S. military bases will be studied following the death of a Bradenton soldier last year.

The House on Monday adopted U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan‘s proposed amendment after the tragedy that killed Army Spc. Nicholas Panipinto, The Sarasota Republican considered the death, during vehicle training in South Korea, an unnecessary loss.

“The heartbreaking and very preventable death of my constituent SPC Nicholas Panipinto clearly shows that changes in training and safety procedures need to be made,” Buchanan said.

“The serious deficiencies and failures identified in the report on SPC Panipinto’s death call for immediate reforms within the Department of Defense. I want to make sure that no family has to go through the pain and suffering that SPC Panipinto’s family has faced.”

Buchanan’s amendment requires the Department of Defense to examine emergency response capabilities and services at U.S. military bases worldwide. That includes reporting to Congress on the benefits and feasibility of requiring bases to have functioning MedEvac helicopters and fully stocked ambulances.

That wasn’t the case when Panipinto died at age 20. He was critically injured during a training exercise when the M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was driving overturned. He had to be the airlifted to local hospital near Camp Humphreys for proper medical care and died there, according to Stars & Stripes.

A post-incident report showed there was no military ambulance available to quickly transport Panipinto. A civilian ambulance lacked a number of medical supplies that could have been life-saving, Buchanan’s office said.

Meanwhile, a MedEvac helicopter called to the scene got lost on the way, and another that was supposed to be available for use could not start. It was two hours between the accident and when Panipinto arrived at the local hospital.

What’s more, the incident involving the Florida soldier isn’t an isolated one. A Congressional Research Service report shows 32% of active duty military deaths occur during training accidents, roughly double the percentage of those killed in action.

Buchanan has also pushed for reforms requiring more simulated training and strengthened requirements regarding use of military equipment.

The House is expected to approve the National Defense Authorization Act Tuesday and head to the Senate after

“The highest tribute that can be paid to the life of SPC Panipinto is that the Defense Department will make sure that future military personnel who are injured during training exercises can quickly receive high-quality medical treatment that might help save their lives,” Buchanan said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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