Joint mission enables patients to receive critical care

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brittany A. Chase
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Airmen and Soldiers, along with U.S. and Japanese civilian personnel from six different locations around the world, teamed up to provide the largest aeromedical evacuation ever at Misawa Air Base, for two critical patients March 22, 2017.

The Air Force AE system is part of the nation’s mobility resources and provides time sensitive, mission critical en route care to patients during transit to medical treatment facilities. Care is provided by Air Force medics specially trained to operate within the global AE system.

Two C-17 Globemaster III’s, one from March Air Force Base and one from Travis AFB, both in California, were requested to transport patients to two separate locations, Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu and Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“The care in the air is provided by AE crews who are comprised of flight nurses, aeromedical technicians, and medical attendants trained to perform routine care and to stabilize patients in flight,” said Maj. Inna Mikhailova, the 35th Medical Group group practice manager. “Regular AE crews may also be augmented with a critical care air transport team if the patients require more intensive care.”

The team is the highest echelon of care, comprised of a critical care physician, a critical care nurse and a cardiopulmonary technician.

“We worked together with the Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center-West to conduct a telephone consult with our attending physician, chief medical officer, flight surgeon and AE office personnel,” said Staff Sgt. Brek Halgren, the 35th Medical Support Squadron aeromedical evacuation NCO in charge. “After conferring over the details and criticality of the case, it was determined this patient would require a few specialized teams.”

Due to one of the patient’s life threatening conditions, a critical care air transport team was required, calling upon multiple forces joining together to provide care.

“Normal missions fly with three to five medical personnel,” said Halgren. “We brought in a CCAT team from Kadena Air Base, Japan, an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation team from Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a few other specialists to assist the patient in critical condition.”

Halgren said due to the life threatening condition of one of the patients, off-site medical attention was needed at a host-nation hospital an hour away.

“This required careful coordination with the host-nation hospital staff. Our local medical group liaison, Mrs. Naoko Takahashi, was instrumental in working with the facility to set up this transfer,” he continued.

When an emergency occurs, everyone drops what they are doing and pitches in to make sure the highest quality of care is provided. When the case is too severe for the 35th MDG, Japanese counterparts in the surrounding area leap into action assisting in patient care.

“It was remarkable to see that much medical capability converge on our base for this service member,” Halgren said. “Three doctors from Hachinohe City Hospital accompanied the transfer and were able to witness this incredible capability. It was a great opportunity to forge ties and form relationships with the hospital and medical staff that care for many of our critical Misawa (AB) beneficiaries.”