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Air Force Medicine: Anytime, anywhere in the world

  • Published
  • By Lauren Bigge
  • NMHM Public Affairs Coordinator

SILVER SPRING, MD. (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Force Medical Service assures that the service deploys a medically-fit force and educates airmen to become medical professionals, according to Chief Master Sgt. David J. Little, the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General Chief of medical operations and research.  

"My purpose is to highlight the Air Force Medical Service - how we take care of our airmen, make sure we have them in the right place at the right time, with the right, appropriate training to take care of that downrange mission," he said. "We operationally support the Air Force, and we do so by being lighter, leaner and faster."  

Little assists with ensuring a quality, cost-effective, preventive-based health care continuum for 2.6 million beneficiaries worldwide. His responsibilities include policy execution for 44,000 personnel and 75 medical treatment facilities, with a budget of more than $6.4 billion. 

Air Force medical operations operate 24/7, anywhere in the world; nearly 800 Air Force medics are deployed to 22 countries. One C-17 Globemaster III can accommodate a Health Response Team of 40 medics, and wherever they land, patients may be treated within as little as 15 minutes. An emergency room and intensive care unit can be set up and ready for patients in less than six hours. 

"It's a tribute to what we can do in a lean, faster, more efficient and effective manner," Little said. "Based on the population at risk, we can increase that. The HRT can handle from zero up to about 5,000 individuals." 

In an aeromedical evacuation, three technicians and two flight nurses treat up to 50 patients in a contingency situation. critical care air transport and tactical critical care evacuation teams move thousands of ICU-level patients. An ER doctor and a cardiology-respiratory technician accompany a CCAT, so patients can be stabilized in flight. A TCCET team flight includes a surgeon and nurse anesthetist. 

Training and education are crucial. Global health engagement in the Air Force began in the early 2000s as an international health specialist program. Airmen gain their knowledge and skills at the Air Force-Navy's Defense Institute of Medical Operations at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio. The Defense Department and State Department deploy mobile training teams, provided by DIMO, to share more than 35 courses with other nations, including disaster preparedness, public health and infectious diseases, and trauma casualty care. 

"Sixty-five officers and enlisted go out and train other nations on how to take care of patients in a contingency or war-time environment," he said.