B-150590, JUNE 20, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 713

B-150590: Jun 20, 1963

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WERE ADMITTED TO A CIVILIAN HOSPITAL WHERE MEMBERS OF THEIR SQUADRON AND A MEDICAL OFFICER ARRIVED TO DETERMINE THEIR CONDITION AND ASSIST IN THEIR TREATMENT UNTIL THEY COULD BE MOVED TO A MILITARY HOSPITAL MAY BE REGARDED AS BEING UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE AIR FORCE FROM THE TIME NOTICE WAS GIVEN OF THEIR ADMISSION TO THE CIVILIAN HOSPITAL. REIMBURSEMENT FOR THEIR CIVILIAN MEDICAL TREATMENT IS AUTHORIZED. THE FOLLOWING FACTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE. AIRMEN COOK AND TROST WERE SEVERELY INJURED WHEN THE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE DRIVEN BY AIRMAN TROST RAN OFF THE ROAD AND STRUCK A TREE. THE AIRMEN WERE REMOVED FROM THE SITE OF THE ACCIDENT TO ST. I. SAWYER AIR FORCE BASE WERE FIRST INFORMED OF THE INCIDENT AND LOCATION OF THE AIRMEN SHORTLY THEREAFTER.

B-150590, JUNE 20, 1963, 42 COMP. GEN. 713

MEDICAL TREATMENT - PRIVATE - MILITARY PERSONNEL - ABSENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE STATUS TWO ENLISTED MEMBERS OF THE AIR FORCE WHO, FOLLOWING AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT WHILE IN AN ABSENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE STATUS, WERE ADMITTED TO A CIVILIAN HOSPITAL WHERE MEMBERS OF THEIR SQUADRON AND A MEDICAL OFFICER ARRIVED TO DETERMINE THEIR CONDITION AND ASSIST IN THEIR TREATMENT UNTIL THEY COULD BE MOVED TO A MILITARY HOSPITAL MAY BE REGARDED AS BEING UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE AIR FORCE FROM THE TIME NOTICE WAS GIVEN OF THEIR ADMISSION TO THE CIVILIAN HOSPITAL, REGARDLESS OF THEIR ABSENT WITHOUT- LEAVE STATUS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT, AND, THEREFORE, REIMBURSEMENT FOR THEIR CIVILIAN MEDICAL TREATMENT IS AUTHORIZED.

TO CAPTAIN W. H. MAURER, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, JUNE 20, 1963:

BY LETTER DATED JUNE 7, 1963, THE CHIEF, MATERIEL DIVISION, DIRECTORATE OF ACCOUNTING AND FINANCE, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, FORWARDED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 17, 1963, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF PAYMENT FROM PUBLIC FUNDS OF EIGHT VOUCHERS PERTAINING TO MEDICAL TREATMENT AND CARE OF AIRMAN BASIC JAMES E. COOK, AF 1370 10487, AND AIRMAN SECOND CLASS JAMES R. TROST, AF 1370 10490, 4042ND FIELD MAINTENANCE SQUADRON, K. I. SAWYER AIR FORCE BASE, MICHIGAN, WHILE EMERGENCY PATIENTS AT ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL, MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN, SUBSEQUENT TO A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON NOVEMBER 2, 1962.

THE FOLLOWING FACTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED TO THIS OFFICE. AT APPROXIMATELY 10 P.M., NOVEMBER 2, 1962, AIRMEN COOK AND TROST WERE SEVERELY INJURED WHEN THE PRIVATELY OWNED AUTOMOBILE DRIVEN BY AIRMAN TROST RAN OFF THE ROAD AND STRUCK A TREE. THE AIRMEN WERE REMOVED FROM THE SITE OF THE ACCIDENT TO ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL, MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN, BY CIVILIAN AMBULANCES AND FIRST OBSERVED BY CIVILIAN DOCTORS ABOUT 11 P.M. OFFICIALS OF THE 56TH U.S. AIR FORCE HOSPITAL AND K. I. SAWYER AIR FORCE BASE WERE FIRST INFORMED OF THE INCIDENT AND LOCATION OF THE AIRMEN SHORTLY THEREAFTER. TWO MEMBERS OF THE AIRMEN'S SQUADRON MADE INQUIRY OF THE AIR POLICE OFFICIALS AND K. I. SAWYER HOSPITAL OFFICIALS ABOUT 11 P.M. CONCERNING THE AIRMEN, AFTER WHICH THEY PROCEEDED TO MARQUETTE AND VISITED ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL SHORTLY AFTER 11:30 P.M. OR AT LEAST IN THE EARLY HOURS OF NOVEMBER 3, 1962. AT 12:50 A.M., NOVEMBER 3, 1962, THE 56TH U.S. AIR FORCE HOSPITAL PLACED TROST AND COOK ON THE SERIOUSLY ILL LIST. NOVEMBER 3, 1962, CAPTAIN DAVID W. GRAINGER, USAF, MC, OF THE 56TH U.S. AIR FORCE HOSPITAL WAS PRESENT AT ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL AND ASSISTED DR. J. W. LYONS IN THE TREATMENT OF AIRMAN COOK AND CONTINUED TO ASSIST WITH HIS SUBSEQUENT TREATMENT. CAPTAIN GRAINGER ALSO CHECKED IN ON AIRMAN TROST, BUT DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN HIS TREATMENT. AIRMAN COOK RECEIVED TREATMENT UNTIL NOVEMBER 7, 1962, WHEN HE WAS TRANSFERRED TO THE 56TH U.S. AIR FORCE HOSPITAL. AIRMAN TROST WAS TREATED UNTIL NOVEMBER 5, 1962, WHEN HE WAS TRANSFERRED TO A GOVERNMENT FACILITY.

ATTACHED TO THE VOUCHERS COVERING PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, HOSPITALIZATION, DRUGS AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES FURNISHED IN CONNECTION WITH THE EMERGENCY TREATMENT OF THE AIRMEN IS A CERTIFICATE DATED NOVEMBER 13, 1962, BY THE COMMANDER, 4042ND FIELD MAINTENANCE SQUADRON, TO THE EFFECT THAT AIRMEN TROST AND COOK WERE ABSENT WITHOUT AUTHORITY ON NOVEMBER 2, 1962. THIS CERTIFICATION WAS MADE FOR THE REASON THAT DURING THE CUBAN CRISIS, THEN DECLARED, ALL PERSONS ASSIGNED TO ORGANIZATIONS WITHIN THE STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND WERE ON ALERT AND RESTRICTED TO THEIR UNITS OF ASSIGNMENT. HOWEVER, IT IS SHOWN THAT AT NO TIME WERE THE AIRMEN EVER CARRIED AS ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE ON THE MORNING REPORTS OF THE SQUADRON TO WHICH THEY WERE ASSIGNED. SINCE AIR FORCE REGULATIONS 160-53 PROHIBIT PAYMENT FOR CIVILIAN MEDICAL SERVICES RENDERED MEMBERS WHILE IN AN ABSENT-WITHOUT- LEAVE STATUS, YOU HAVE PRESENTED FOR DECISION THE QUESTION WHETHER AIRMEN COOK AND TROST WERE IN AN ABSENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE STATUS AND THEREFORE NOT ENTITLED TO CIVILIAN MEDICAL CARE UNDER EMERGENCY CONDITIONS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE.

THE GRANTING OF LEAVE AND THE EXCUSING OF ABSENCES FROM MILITARY INSTALLATIONS ARE PRIMARILY MATTERS OF ADMINISTRATIVE CONCERN. HOWEVER, THE CONTROLLING FEATURE IN CASES OF THIS KIND IS NOT SO MUCH AN AIRMAN'S LEAVE STATUS AT THE TIME OF AN ACCIDENT AS IT IS THE RESUMPTION OF MILITARY CONTROL OVER THE AIRMAN AND DIRECTION REGARDING HIS DISPOSITION AND TREATMENT. CIVILIAN MEDICAL TREATMENT IS NOT ORDINARILY AUTHORIZED FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL WHILE ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE, SUCH EXPENSES BEING CONSIDERED THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL CONCERNED. HOWEVER, MEDICAL TREATMENT AND HOSPITALIZATION IN KIND IS AVAILABLE TO PERSONNEL RETURNED FROM AN ABSENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE STATUS AND WE HAVE HELD THAT PAYMENT FOR CIVILIAN MEDICAL SERVICES RENDERED IN EMERGENCY CASES IS AUTHORIZED FROM THE TIME SUCH INDIVIDUALS MAY BE VIEWED AS HAVING BEEN RETURNED, EITHER ACTUALLY OR CONSTRUCTIVELY, TO THE JURISDICTION OF THEIR ORGANIZATION. IN THIS CASE THE AIR FORCE AUTHORITIES WERE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED OF THE ADMISSION OF THE AIRMEN TO ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL. MEMBERS OF THEIR SQUADRON WERE AT THE HOSPITAL AND DETERMINED THEIR CONDITION WITHIN AN HOUR OR TWO AFTER LEARNING OF THE ACCIDENT. AN AIR FORCE MEDICAL OFFICER ASSISTED WITH THE TREATMENT OF AIRMAN COOK AND LOOKED IN ON AND WAS FAMILIAR WITH THE CONDITION OF AIRMAN TROST. IT APPEARS THAT THE DIRECTOR OF BASE MEDICAL SERVICES WAS KEPT ADVISED OF THE AIRMEN'S CONDITION AND THAT CONSTANT CONTACT WAS MAINTAINED WITH THE CIVILIAN PHYSICIANS AND CIVILIAN HOSPITAL UNTIL THEIR CONDITION WARRANTED THEIR BEING MOVED TO THE MILITARY HOSPITAL. NO DISCIPLINARY ACTION WAS TAKEN IN THE CASE OF EITHER AIRMAN WITH REGARD TO BREACH OF RESTRICTION AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT. THEREFORE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE AIRMEN WERE IN AN ABSENT-WITHOUT-LEAVE STATUS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT, IT MAY REASONABLY BE CONCLUDED THAT THEY WERE UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE AIR FORCE FROM THE TIME THAT NOTICE WAS GIVEN OF THEIR ADMISSION TO ST. MARY'S HOSPITAL AND MEMBERS OF THEIR ORGANIZATION AND AN AIR FORCE DOCTOR WERE DISPATCHED TO INVESTIGATE THEIR CONDITION WHICH WAS DETERMINED TO HAVE BEEN TOO SERIOUS TO PERMIT THEM TO BE TRANSFERRED TO THE AIR FORCE MEDICAL FACILITIES AT THAT TIME.

ACCORDINGLY, THE VOUCHERS, WHICH ARE RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE PAID, IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.