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Kentucky, Mississippi ANG establish air hub for hurricane response

HOUSTON (AFNS) -- Airmen from the Kentucky and Mississippi Air National Guard established an aeromedical evacuation and air cargo hub Aug. 30, 2017, attaining mission-capable status within hours of their arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

With the local area under severe flooding, hospitals overwhelmed and the need for patients to relocate to different medical facilities, Airmen wasted no time establishing the hub after arriving with 90 tons of gear aboard two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in the early morning hours.

“Right now, the number we’re hearing is that approximately 1,800 patients need to be evacuated out of the disaster area,” said Col. Bruce Bancroft, the Kentucky ANG’s 123rd Contingency Response Group commander, whose personnel make up the bulk of the mission. “They will be staged to a forward area. We’re going to facilitate that and allow aeromedical evacuation to happen. We coordinate all the aircraft coming in and facilitate the ramp space with the other agencies here.”

According to Bancroft, Airmen will support aeromedical evacuation by removing patients from ambulances, processing them for air movement and transporting them to military aircraft to evacuate out of the area.

This effort marks the first deployment for Airman 1st Class Logan Crady, a new air transportation specialist for the Kentucky ANG’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, who volunteered for the mission because of the opportunity it provides to help people in need while also learning more about his job.

“I’m excited to get to work and learn the equipment more,” Crady said. “And we’re doing something truly meaningful—we’re saving people and helping people out.”

As the only contingency response group in the ANG, the Kentucky unit is in a unique position to respond to homeland disasters such as Hurricane Harvey, Bancroft said.

“The ability to go and do a complete airfield assessment and then literally open a contingency airbase for an emergency like this, that is primarily a CRG responsibility,” Bancroft said. “In the Guard, we’re the only group qualified to do that. We’re very proud to be here. This is what we train for 365 days a year. This is why we signed up. It’s a select group of people that have the opportunity to be in this unit. For us to go out and exercise what we do for a living is a very proud time for us.”