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Henrico doctor saves lives from Central Virginia to faraway battlefields

Posted at 11:04 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 18:33:32-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Downtime isn’t something Dr. Ralph Layman enjoys an abundance of.

“My saying goes if the day ends in a “Y” I am usually working, so. Probably six and a half,” said Dr. Layman.

The trauma and transplant surgeon at Henrico Doctors Hospital tends to crises on a daily basis.

"Then the middle of the night emergencies from a car crash to violence may come through the door," said Dr. Layman.

The 45-year-old points to his Eagle Scout Training as the reason he is always prepared.

"The surgeries are sometimes short like one or two hours, but some of the more complex surgeries can go to push the eight to 10 hour mark for the surgery itself," said Dr. Layman.

But, scrubs are not the only uniform Dr. Layman wears.

“There are no days off. Things can happen 24/7,” he explained.

Colonel Layman has been serving in the United States Army for 20 years.

"My first deployment was just after I finished my first residency in 2008,” said Dr. Layman.

He has performed surgeries in Iraq and Afghanistan several times.

“I just returned from my sixth deployment,” said Dr. Layman.

Six deployments in a dozen years.

“There is definitely no clock to punch when you’re the only surgeon in the mountains of Afghanistan,” stated Dr. Layman.

Not every operating room near a battlefield is state of the art.

“You have limited supplies. You have limited staff availability. You have limited light sometimes,” said Dr. Layman. “It takes a lot of thinking on your feet. It takes a lot of ingenuity.”

His patients are friend and foe alike.

"Our first goal is to preserve their life, limbs and preserve their eyesight. I’ll let the politics happen at another spot,” said Dr. Layman.

His steady hands always on the move, Dr. Layman admits that the travel can put a strain on the married father. But knowing his family supports him from afar makes each deployment a little easier.

“It is a sense of duty and the commitment I made to my country and fellow soldiers,” said Dr. Layman.

As a career soldier there is a strong likelihood Dr. Layman will be sent overseas again.

“I was recently promoted so I won’t be getting out anytime soon,” said Dr. Layman.

This former Eagle Scout doesn’t have any regrets. It is what this soldier surgeon signed up to do.

“I love being here, treating the people of Richmond but I love being out of the country, being in some interesting and harrowing situations, taking care of our people overseas,” added Dr. Layman.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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