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Reserve Citizen Airmen fly critical supplies to rural Colorado hospitals

Citizen Airmen support medical needs

Being a good Samaritan is a family tradition for the Huss family. Here, Maj. Sean Huss and son Austin pose for a quick memory photo after delivering critical medical supplies in Huss' personal plane to an airfield near a rural hospital in Colorado. Huss and teammate Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins, Air Force Reserve instructor pilots assigned to the 70th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, have teamed up with the Angel Flight West charitable organization to get critical supplies to hospitals in urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Citizen Airmen support medical needs

Being a good Samaritan is a family tradition for the Cummins family. Here, Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins and daughter Anna fly critical medical supplies in Cummins' personal plane to an airfield near a rural hospital in Colorado. Cummins and teammate Maj. Sean Huss, Air Force Reserve instructor pilots assigned to the 70th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, have teamed up with the Angel Flight West charitable organization to get critical supplies to hospitals in urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Citizen Airmen support medical needs

Volunteers and medical personnel unload medical supplies from Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins' personal plane upon delivery to the airfield near a rural hospital in Colorado. An Air Force Reserve instructor pilot assigned to the 70th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Cummins and teammate Maj. Sean Huss teamed up with the charitable organization Angel Flight West to help get critical supplies to hospitals in urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Citizen Airmen support medical needs

Volunteers load personal protective equipment and other medical supplies into Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins' personal plane in preparation to deliver the equipment to a rural hospital in Colorado. An Air Force Reserve instructor pilot assigned to the 70th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Cummins and teammate Maj. Sean Huss teamed up with the charitable organization Angel Flight West to help get critical supplies to hospitals in urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Citizen Airmen support medical needs

Employees at the Lincoln Community Hospital in Colorado pose for a photo after Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins delivers medical supplies. Cummins and teammate Maj. Sean Huss, Air Force Reserve instructor pilots for the 70th Flying Training Squadron, Air Force Academy, Colorado, teamed up with the Angel Flight West charitable organization to gather and transport critical supplies to rural Colorado hospitals in urgent need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy photo by Angela Kobel, Lincoln Community Hospital)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – When not providing total force flight training for the Air Force Academy Powered Flight Program, 70th Flying Training Squadron Reserve Citizen Airmen Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins and Maj. Sean Huss are devoting their mountain flying expertise and volunteering their personal aircraft to fly critical medical supplies to rural Colorado hospitals.

Hospitals nationwide are experiencing a drastic shortage of critical medical supplies in the race to care for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural hospitals and health clinics are especially vulnerable, said Cummins, who explained that more than 40 percent of Colorado’s hospitals are located in rural communities.

"Colorado’s rugged and diverse terrain can create expeditious resupply challenges," he said. "In response, the Colorado Hospital Association and charitable Angel Flight West organization partnered to acquire donated medical supplies and deliver them directly to communities in need via Colorado’s general aviation airport network."

Thanks to their combined efforts, a host of volunteer Angel Flight West pilots, such as Cummins and Huss, have performed over 70 relief flights, quickly delivering thousands of medical supplies including surgical gowns, masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, and a ventilator. Some delivery recipients were operating with less than a day's supply of this vital equipment.

For Reserve Citizen Airmen like Cummins and Huss, the relief flight efforts are especially meaningful.

Cummins, whose wife is an active Colorado nurse and daughter volunteers at a local hospital, is also a former emergency room registered nurse and firefighter-paramedic himself.

“Directly accessing over 80 Colorado community airports can easily turn a six-hour ground transport into a one-hour resupply flight," he said. "Through this process, these community-wide volunteer efforts can provide meaningful assistance to the first responders and healthcare workers who are sacrificing so much for us.”

Huss has an emotional tie to the operation, as well, with his mother and sister actively serving in frontline healthcare professions.

“Colorado presents a unique challenge for rapid resupply to our remote hospitals," Huss said. "But the men and women of Angel Flight West are essentially eliminating that obstacle, which means our healthcare workers won’t have to concern themselves with PPE availability. I’m extremely proud of how our communities have pulled together to support them.”