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445th aeromedical evacuation Airmen sharpen skills during DART

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick O'Reilly
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Citizen Reserve Airmen with the 445th Airlift Wing from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, trained alongside reservists with the 403rd Wing from Keesler AFB, Mississippi, March 21-23.

As part of this year’s Dissimilar Aircraft Refresher Training for Air Force Reserve Command aeromedical evacuation squadrons, six reservists with the 445th AES honed their skills aboard a C-130J from Keesler while 14 reservists with the 36th AES trained aboard a 445th AW C-17 aircraft assigned to the 89th Airlift Squadron out of WPAFB.

DART provides AES nurses and technicians a bulk of their semi-annual requirements by training on different aircraft not typically flown at their home stations. This coincides with Aero Medical Evacuation Readiness Mission training which is required for AES Airmen to maintain their mission readiness.

“This week, we got the opportunity to perform an active tail swap with engines running,” said Tech. Sgt. Marjorie Butcher, 445th AES medical technician. “We can’t guarantee that all planes are going to be running when we step out there, but we can guarantee that we are going to get the patients home. We have to practice changing from one aircraft to another and know what the capabilities of the aircraft are and make sure that we can set it up to take the patients regardless.”

Butcher added when they come out of flight school, they are universally qualified on a C-17, C-130 and a KC-135.

“This is a little different than normal, because we stopped at Keesler to do a tail swap,” said Master Sgt. Brandon High, 445th AES medical technician. “We just moved all our equipment over to the C-130J. Their crew moved their equipment to our C-17, and then from there, both crews flew down to St. Croix where we run missions. It's just a little extra training for us. Traditionally, we would just take C-17 from home station and go to our destination and run there. We threw in the tail swap to just get the experience.”

Each mission lasted approximately three hours and had simulated patients the crews ran medical emergency training procedures on. Airway respiratory, muscular and neuro trauma, obstetrics and mental health management were some of the different scenarios each crew experienced during the training. To properly care for the patients, the crew had to adapt according to the capabilities of each aircraft.

“Different airframes offer different patient capabilities,” Butcher said. “Some airframes give us oxygen, and some don't. We must make sure that we have all the equipment necessary that we can support our patients.

“We have to be able to know how much amperage we're pulling on all of their equipment plus our equipment, as well as the oxygen needs of the patient to make sure that we have everything that they need,” Butcher explained. “We must be able to do that in all environments, regardless of how windy, noisy, all of the rain and light conditions as well so that we can make sure that we have a successful mission.”

Overall, each of the AES reservists found the training to be realistic and extremely beneficial.

“This week was very successful,” said Lt. Col. Kimberlee Sandusky, 445th AES flight nurse. “We were able to get a lot of our training scenarios completed. We followed our regulations. We were able to adapt, work together and communicate together using closed loop communications.”

In addition, the training built a relational foundation important for AES crews.

“I think we had a wonderful opportunity to work with another crew that we haven't in the past,” Butcher said. “When we do deploy, we do mix up personnel from unit to unit, so it's really a great chance to get to make those relationships with them. We can build on that when it comes to deployment, and we can have that rapport and the continuity of care for our patients.”

“I think this is one of the best jobs out there. We are the only branch that does this kind of job. We transport not only DoD but civilians, contractors, foreign nationals, dependents … everyone, so it's not just military,” Butcher added. “So, if you are somewhere and you're sick or injured, we're going to be the ones bringing you home.”