U.S., New Zealand air force medical experts exchange ideas, build partnerships

  • Published
  • By Capt Rebecca Heyse
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
When disaster strikes in the Pacific - whether natural or man-made, the U.S. relies heavily on its partners throughout the region to help respond, save lives and provide comfort to those requiring assistance. Leading the efforts are specially-trained international aeromedical personnel charged with caring for and transporting the most fragile to higher-level of care facilities.

Aeromedical professionals from the U.S. and New Zealand met this month at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base, Auckland, New Zealand, to discuss how each country conducts operations to ensure future engagements, either real world or training, are as effective as possible. This meeting was conducted because a seamless response does not happen automatically, it is the result of exchanges and training events that increase operations awareness between counterparts.

"I met with representatives from the Royal New Zealand Air Force last July at the Air Mobility Command International Aeromedical Evacuation Conference and we discussed the possibility of future exchanges and training opportunities," said Master Sgt. Enrique Ferreira, International Health Specialist with 13th Air Force's Command Surgeon's Office.
"When I found out we [13th Air Force] were going to be in New Zealand participating in Exercise Kiwi Flag, it seemed like it was an opportunity to optimize engagement through a health perspective and act on our previous discussions."

The primary objective for this event was to pave the way for future productive engagements with the Royal New Zealand Defence Force. A range of peacetime and contingency medical operations were looked at to ensure interoperability and mutual organizational understanding during natural disasters and humanitarian assistance.
Three U.S. Air Force and six personnel from the Royal New Zealand Air Force, Army and Navy participated, establishing baselines when comparing medical standards, identifying gaps and strengths and determining how best to utilize and proceed to higher levels of engagements.

"To our knowledge there has not been an exchange of this nature in the past between our two countries and I was impressed with the mutual respect and transparency that the RNZDF representatives brought to the discussion," said Ferreira. "It was absolutely one of the best engagements I have been part of to date and I view this as a stepping stone to further medical endeavors between our nations."

Exchanges also took place between jumpmasters from each country as well as maritime rescue personnel as part of Exercise Kiwi Flag, a tactical air mobility exercise that aimed to improve the interoperability and partnership between the Royal Australian Air Force, French Defense Force (New Caledonia), Republic of Singapore Air Force, RNZAF, U.S. Marine Corps and USAF during the 75th Anniversary of the RNZAF celebrations.