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Robinson volleyball coach among MacDill medic relief group in Haiti

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Sat. January 23, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

Robinson volleyball coach Ryan Wheatley, an active-duty Air Force medic stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa, is part of a 13-person medical team currently assisting earthquake victims in Haiti.

Wheatley, a tech sergeant and the non-commissioned officer in charge, and his crew left McDill on Wednesday for Port-au-Prince with the mission of transporting patients by air to other medical facilities where they can receive treatment. According to a MacDill news release, they were already ready to transport patients to a medical facility in Florida within 2 1/2 hours of their arrival. Their staging facility can process 40 people a day.

The group was scheduled to depart Monday, but was delayed by a logjam of other relief flights flying into Port-au-Prince's airport, which has just one runway. 

The unit specializes in specialized medical care to patients in need of aeromedical evacuation from an area. It includes medical technicians, nurses and support staff. Some members of the group were deployed to Texas to provide help in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008.

This fall, Wheatley took over a Robinson team didn't have a head coach in August and won just two matches the previous year and turned it into a district challenger. The Knights won eight games before losing in the Class 4A-9 district semifinals. Wheatley has also helped coach the Robinson girls soccer team as an assistant.

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