Aeromedical evac team aids freed hostages

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Charles
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
For Staff Sgt. Donald Ennis, a medical technician assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the day started routinely enough. He walked outside his room to video chat with his wife and two daughters on his computer. During the conversation, he glanced up from the screen and noticed his evacuation team leader, Maj. Debra Sims, a 379th EAES flight nurse, urgently walking toward him.

"We've got a priority mission," said Sims.

Ennis quickly ended the video chat and ran to his room to prepare. As an air evacuation medical technician, Ennis had become accustomed to these alert calls; however, this alert was different. This time, Ennis would be participating in a secret mission calling for the medical evacuation of two hostages who had been rescued hours earlier from pirates in Somalia. For this particular evacuation, details were scant due to the sensitivity of the mission.

"Sometimes we don't get all the details right away," said Sims. "Situations change all of the time. A good team of medical technicians can adapt to those changes and provide the best care to patients in any possible situation."

There was one more obstacle in accomplishing the mission: manning. Due to the high volume of missions by the squadron, the medical team, which would normally consist of five members, was cut down to three.

"Our job is to be prepared to give the best care to patients in any situation; so we did just that," Sims said.

The key to overcoming obstacles is simple -- training, she said.

"We train for situations like this constantly," Sims said. "There is nothing more important than getting the individuals who have sustained injuries out of harm's way. I'm fortunate enough to work with a great group of people who are hard workers and dedicated to providing the best care to patients that we possibly can."

Ennis added that another important component is teamwork.

"From the moment we receive a mission there is only one thing on the mind of all the members of the squadron; and that's the patient," said Ennis. "There are such professionals here that working together is like second nature."

Following the evacuation, Ennis was able to get back on his computer to video chat with his wife and daughters. They were excited to ask him if he had heard about the group of hostages that had been rescued from pirates and evacuated out of harm's way.

"Oh really?" he said, fighting back a smile. "I must have missed that."