KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Imagine being strapped into the back of a C-130J Super Hercules on a litter, fighting to breathe while being whisked toward a hospital that can provide critical care. Not only are there pilots, navigators and loadmasters ensuring the aircraft makes it to the hospital safely, there are flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians standing by to administer medical procedures, check equipment and respond to any emergencies that could arise during the flight.
Today the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron conducted their first training mission out of Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., practicing this very scenario.
Squadron members started today’s training mission with a meeting at the Arnold Medical Annex where they reviewed their checklists and planned the mission. They went over duty assignments, emergency procedures, the flight status of each crew member and how to configure the cargo area of the aircraft, including where each patient will be placed. They also discussed each patient to determine their status, medical needs, symptoms, previous treatments, medication, allergies and necessary equipment, including a precise calculation of the amount of oxygen needed.
The crew created an in-depth plan for the mission because, “We have to take care of our patients and in the event of an aircraft emergency we have to take care of ourselves,” Master Sgt. Joe Byrd, 36th AES aeromedical evacuation technician said. Each crew member has an individual training summary sheet they must keep current to maintain their flight qualifications.
After completing the mission briefing, the 36th AES crew members collected their equipment and medical dummies and brought them out to the flight line to be loaded onto a 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft. This was the first flight where the 36th AES and the 53rd WRS conducted simultaneous training missions that allowed members of both squadrons to practice their life-saving missions.
“On the home station side this is what we do; we train and make situations as real as we can so we can be prepared for real-world situations,” Maj. Aaron Hagen, chief flight nurse for the 36th AES said.
Once the crew unloaded the equipment onto the flight line they configured the cargo area of the aircraft for patient transport and then loaded the equipment and patients onto the aircraft. During the training mission they also practiced different scenarios that could happen during a real patient transport including cardiac arrest, a change in patient status or an aircraft emergency.
“This provides us with real-life training in a simulated scenario and keeps us qualified on medical procedures, medical equipment and aircraft emergencies,” Byrd said.
The 36th AES is a unit new to the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing and will be welcomed during a ceremony Saturday at 9:36 a.m. at the Roberts Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Facility auditorium.
“Keesler has welcomed us with open arms to make us part of the team, and we’re all integrating very well.” Hagen said.
The unit is relocating from Pope Field, N.C., and will include 40 officers and 83 enlisted personnel. Five of those positions will be full-time Air Reserve Technicians. For more information or to apply for jobs across the 403rd Wing, visit http://www.403wg.afrc.af.mil/About/Recruiting.aspx.