Stratotanker pilot builds AE tanker guide

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- From August to October 2003, Maj. Eric Brumskill served as the director of operations for the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at an undisclosed deployed location.

While there, the major -- who is the director of operations for the 912th Air Refueling Squadron here -- helped develop a "how to" for KC-135R Stratotanker aeromedical evacuation procedures. He has carried that development from there to this base and the rest of Air Mobility Command.

Major Brumskill, an experienced KC-135R and C-9 Nightingale pilot, said the work to develop the "how to" initiated with a tasking from the Combined Air Operations Center where he was deployed.

"Having C-9 experience, aeromedical evacuation experience, and having been the most knowledgeable tanker guy at the time, the CAOC came down with a mission for an emergency aeromedical evacuation," Major Brumskill said. "They said, 'Can we make this happen?' Well, unfortunately, that was the one day I was flying an air refueling mission so all of our folks did the best they could, but they didn't really know where to look. They didn't have an overall picture or concept and luckily, it got turned off."

From that cancelled mission, Major Brumskill said they discussed what they could have done to make it work.

"The people associated with the tankers there came to me at that point, and I put together a working document for aeromedical evacuation procedures for the tanker from the deployed area of operations," the major said. "When I left in October, I left the then-established continuity for those people who replaced me."

AMC officials, as well as officials currently deployed with the CAOC where all air operations for the area of responsibility are coordinated, say the KC-135 is not the leading choice for aeromedical evacuation operations from those areas. However, having a plan in place helps.

Maj. Rodolfo Savala, an aeromedical coordinator of intratheater airlift in the Air Mobility Directorate of the CAOC, said that while they have the capability to use the KC-135 as an AE tool in theater, it isn't being used as such.

Currently, Major Savala said the only KC-135 AE missions that would likely be conducted in their AOR are strategic airlift missions, not intra-theater lift.

"As such, that is controlled by the Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott (Air Force Base, Ill.), not us," Major Savala said. "But like I said, we do have the capability for these missions."

Brumskill said when he got back from deployment, 319th Air Refueling Wing leaders wanted him to spearhead a similar project here.

"I actually went to AMC and met with the author of the KC-135 AE program -- Lt. Col. Denise Augustine -- and we sat down and talked," Major Brumskill said. "What came out of it was not a training program, but an in-flight guide if you will. It has since evolved into something aircrews can use as a tool to do an AE mission."

Brumskill said there is one guide for each flying squadron on base, and each squadron hands that off to the crew who is tasked with an AE mission.

"Of course I have a master binder from which they are all based," Major Brumskill said. "There is one per flying squadron (4), plus the 319th Operations Support Squadron has one, and there is going to be one in base operations."

Major Brumskill said AMC has now benchmarked what he has done with his "in-flight guide."

"From what we could find, AMC previously had nothing like this," Major Brumskill said. "They had information out there. It was scattered information, which is why I chose to build this guide."

The major said a more generic form of the guide is being coordinated and will possibly be placed on an AMC Web page.

"I came back from deployment in October, and I made a working copy of the guide by the end of October," Major Brumskill said. "Every AE mission our wing has done for the last three months has had the book to use. I have gone on two trips myself with the book and the crew members who went with me found it very useful."

Capt. Cheri Gavan, a KC-135R co-pilot who has used the book on a recent AE mission, said having the guide has been a bonus.

"We don't have to reinvent the wheel now," she said. "It saves on manhours and the preparation aspect of doing these missions. Just having the guide is huge for us. He did a great job in developing it."

Major Brumskill said he also sent information to deployed crews in two areas where Warriors of the North are currently deployed. He said it will serve as a basis for them to develop their own AE guidance for those areas.