HomeNewsArticle Display

Total force medical team transports Sailor home

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- When a 34-year-old Navy Ssailor suffered multiple traumatic injuries during a mission in Syria, a Total Force team of medical professionals and mMobility Airmen sprung into action, intent on saving the life of a fellow service member.

The sailor suffered injuries while performing improvised explosive device clearing operations. The severity of his injuries reduced his survival rate to two percent, requiring urgent transport from Syria to Texas.

“The severity of injuries sustained by the patient were massive,” said Maj. Joshua Hamilton, Critical Care Air Transport Team physician “Many of us were shocked he survived the initial injury.”

The sailor’s injuries included a torn trachea, cervical spine injury, tibia/fibula fracture and an open eye injury. Doctors performed an emergency thoracotomy to manually massage the Sailor’s heart before aeromedical teams arrived.

Hamilton, who is deployed from the 88th Air Base Wing, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, stated Critical Care Teams are strategically located to allow for quicker response to critically battle injured troops.

“Our team receives specialty training to allow us to provide critical care delivery to patients in austere environments,” Hamilton explained. “We are able to arrive at a location and assemble ICU level support, as well as provide intensive care in the air throughout the flight, and deliver the patient to other facilities for ongoing care.”

With time of the essence, the 618th Air Operations Center rerouted a C-17 Globemaster III preparing to depart from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. That C-17 and its crew, under the command of Maj. Andrew Vandertoorn from the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California, were reassigned to perform the air evacuation mission.

“At the time, we were preparing for a contingency mission to Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) ,” Vandertoorn said. “When the crew got the call, we sprung right into action. We knew how serious this mission was and started making the right decisions to make this mission a success.”

Vandertoorn added that though he and his crew are trained to accomplish the dynamic and unexpected challenges aeromedical missions present, this particular mission was different due to the severity of the patient’s injuries.

“We were restricted to a cabin altitude of 5,000 feet, meaning we had to maintain an altitude of 28,000 feet,” he said. “This meant we burnt more fuel, were subjected to different routings and encountered more adverse weather.”

To ensure resources and personnel were not overtasked, the 618th AOC leveraged the floater crew at Ramstein Air Base to coordinate flights between Germany and Baghdad.

“My responsibilities as aircraft commander were to ensure the safe transportation of the team and patient in and out of the combat zone,” Capt. Tim McCammon said. “In addition to operating the aircraft, I worked with the medical crew director to ensure the crew heading back to the States had what they needed to be able to accomplish their mission.”

McCammon, who was deployed to Ramstein AB from the 62nd Airlift Wing, JB oint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, said altitude and adverse weather were not the only challenges the team faced during the transport. He explained one of the biggest hurdle was getting through various international airspaces, as there was some discrepancy between the crews' actual diplomatic clearance number for overflies versus the one given to the country's authorities.

“This was a frustrating ordeal because we knew this mission was extremely time-sensitive and could literally mean the difference between life and death of a service member.”

While the aircrew was handling the diplomatic obstacles, the medical crews were designing a configuration for the C-17 that would accommodate the additional personnel and equipment needed to get the patient back to Texas.

Given the patient’s injuries, a highly-specialized 10-member Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation team from the San Antonio Military Medical Center, joined the AE and CCATT teams. The ECMO is a pump designed to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream.

“ECMO provides support to the body and compensates for lungs that are not adequate to bring oxygen into the body or take away the carbon dioxide the body produces,” Hamilton explained. “Even with the restricted cabin altitude of 5,000 feet, without ECMO, the patient would not have survived the trip.”

Although this mission was not their first aeromedical evacuation mission, every member involved stated this tops their lists in terms of magnitude.

“This was not the first urgent or critical patient in my career but it was the first with the ECMO mode of intervention, and unusually high number of caregivers,” said Capt. John. Soule, 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard. “I believe my experience as a civilian paramedic and later as a nurse in a nNeuro/tTrauma intensive care unit prepared me for almost any mission from a technical aspect. I knew the assembled team was highly credentialed and skilled enough to give this sailor the best possible chance at survival, which is as comforting as anything else could be to my mind.”

Hamilton added accomplishing missions such as these is one of the reason why he joined the Air Force.

“To bring the skills of a critical care team to the bedside of an injured soldier at a time of need, and transport that patient to a higher level facility safely and quickly is something that can happen in no other military force on the planet,” he said. “This mission embodies the hopes we all have as we chose military medicine over civilian practice. To serve those injured protecting our country is the highest calling.”

McCammon echoed Hamilton’s sentiment, adding there are times when a mission re-cages an Airman’s view of their occupation.

“It is easy to get discouraged with long days and tough conditions, but it's a mission like that this that reminds you why you do what you do.”


Editor's Note: This story has been updated since its original posting.

Engage

Twitter
Supporting the Department of the Air Force Arctic Strategy. From development to ops in less than a year! These inn… https://t.co/kDXsw1hJ8P
Twitter
Taking care of people The Women’s Health Transition Training, which is offered virtually, provides information on… https://t.co/yL9UQ0V9rf
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I believe that success takes a team, but failure you can do alone. Grateful for the chance to sit down and connect with a…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: A new $33 million contract is increasing #COVID19 testing capabilities at 42 #military treatment facilities across the @usairf
Twitter
Accelerate change or lose. @GenCQBrownJr expressed his vision for fulfilling the Air Force's mission and protectin… https://t.co/t2iHEW5yAM
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: Every operation and campaign is only as strong as its supply chain. Tune into #AMO2020 today to watch teams compete in a w…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Thank you to @MilFamiliesMag for talking with Sharene and me today. The wellbeing of our families is essential to the suc…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: While many people are sleeping, Maintainers are still hard at work... Our teammates Ellsworth AFB, shared a picture of…
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: It’s the Airmen who aren’t in this photo that I want to talk about. They are out there right now turning wrenches, gene…
Twitter
RT @airforcerso: 13 teams are competing to help the @USAirForce with better performing, more cost-effective & reliable technology that prod…
Twitter
Keeping combat agile 💪 @USAF_ACC is testing agile combat employment & a new lead wing deployment concept intended… https://t.co/0F3nAwIZnx
Twitter
Strengthening international partnerships. #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/m5YeqA8i5G
Twitter
Modernizing our fighting force! #AimHigh #InnovativeAF https://t.co/pEQUJdqYFE
Twitter
#DYK The 563rd Rescue Group directs flying operations for the #USAF's only active duty rescue wing dedicated to Com… https://t.co/QYDiSZ50qe
Twitter
Another day at the office. Can't comPLANE. 😉 ⚡ #LoveThisJob #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/7Vjemy7gP7
Twitter
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Blinded by the light 😎🔆 @TeamFairchild is taking #innovation to another level by setting the standard for Project Tesse…
Twitter
Defense data for academia! 🎓 “Digital engineering isn't a fluke … It is our future.” - Dr. Will Roper, assistant… https://t.co/NQsFQpmu2N
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: Dr. Anderson participated in Global Thunder, US-Stratcom’s annual NC2 exercise while traveling to Minot. This exercise i…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Laid a wreath at the American Cemetery in Münsingen, Switzerland, which hosts the gravesites of 61 U.S. Army Air Forces…
Twitter
RT @WILLROP3R: ASKED/ANSWERED. Friday, a @usairforce U-2 spy plane updated code during flight--a military first! Update #2 improved automat…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,296,154
Follow Us