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Aeromedical evacuation teams train in C-130 fuselage
Capt. Clayton Harvey, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, verifies that all medical equipment is functioning properly during training in a simulated C-130 Hercules fuselage Jan. 28, 2016, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The fuselage provides the 375th AES an opportunity to accomplish 50 percent of their required semi-annual training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Estevez)
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Aeromedical evacuation teams train in C-130 fuselage

Posted 2/12/2016   Updated 2/12/2016 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Melissa Estevez
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2016 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Aeromedical evacuation teams must be mentally, physically and emotionally ready at all times and keep their skills sharp because they make life and death decisions that impact military members and their families.

To help maintain their life-saving skills, members of the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron regularly train on a variety of exercise scenarios in a static C-130 fuselage located on the aircraft parking ramp near their building.

"With the C-130 platform, we can obtain the required training we need when we are not flying and are in-between missions," said Capt. Thomas Jones, 375th AES flight instructor.

Each year, about two-thirds of their 117-member unit will be deployed or tasked to conduct medevac missions all around the world.

In addition to transporting wounded and ill warriors, they also transport other members of the Department of Defense as well as families who are in need of critical medical attention.

While most people are aware of their mission to transport wounded warriors, they also transport any member of the Department of Defense and their families who are in need of critical medical attention. For instance, they have transported infants from overseas locations to stateside facilities for more intensive care.

"That's why the training is so important, because we just never know what situation we may encounter, and we need to be ready for anything," said Jones.

The five-member AE crews normally consist of a medical crew director, a flight nurse, and three medical technicians, each with specific skill sets to tackle any challenge.

They are highly competent, said Jones, and they all go through a rigorous selection and training process. These teams specialize in critical care while their fellow Airmen in the squadrons provide command and control, ground support, patient staging, logistics and infrastructure needed to establish and conduct these AE missions.

The 375th AES is one of four active duty AE squadrons in the Air Force--two are located stateside and two overseas. They train, mobilize, and deploy aboard C-130, C-17, C-21, and KC-135 aircraft. In the past, the Air Force used dedicated aircraft for medevac (C-141s and C-9s) but now these teams can configure any transport aircraft--even the wing's C-21 can support a patient transport.

Lt. Col. Tammy Pokorney, 375th AES chief nurse, said "This allows us to be lean and really maximize the capabilities of a universally qualified aircrew who can stabilize and transport patients from initial resuscitation to a final treatment location. Our missions are not only for outpatient support, but also serve as critical assets to the war effort and disaster response."

Air Mobility Command is the lead for worldwide military aeromedical evacuation and is responsible for organizing, training and equipping the AE forces as well as overseeing the system of command and control, operational and clinical training, communications, staging and patient care.

According to AMC, because of advances in both medical techniques and the Air Force's quick response capabilities, wounded warriors have "an incredible 98 percent survival rate" if they reach a hospital quickly and are returned to the U.S in three days or less. This is an increase from the Dessert Storm survivability rate, which was 75 percent--taking an average of 10 days to return. In Vietnam, the survivability rate was 75 percent, taking an average of 45 days.

Additionally, AMC can re-task missions already in execution in theater when necessary. Their ability to respond is an average of 6 1/2 hours from initial notification to wheels up for their most urgent cases.

Now, as certain C-130 airframes are being retired, AMC seizes the opportunity to use it as a training platform for their AE crews. At Scott, active duty AE members train on this platform, with future plans to incorporate our reserve partners. Through modeling and simulation, it provides a low-threat environment for newer trainees and continues to challenge even the most experienced flyers, according to Capt. Mathew Beeman, 375th AES flight instructor.

"Instructors can now tailor training to continue to challenge experienced aircrew. Having the C-130 at our full disposal allows for creative training mission plans that keep our experienced aircrews sharp," he said. "Overall it's just a great asset that enhances our clinical and operational training."

2/12/2016 3:06:02 PM ET
While assigned to the 924th Medical Group at Chicago we had a part of a C-130 we called the Hulk. This was used primary the the AES at Chicago O'Hare for training as well as other medical stuff.
Dan Skopp, Milwaukee Wisconsin
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