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Scott crews evacuate patients away from Lili's path

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFPN) -- The crews of two C-9 Nightingale aircraft, loaded with medical specialists and gear, evacuated 41 elderly critical care patients early Oct. 3 from Lake Charles, La., to Shreveport, La.

As Hurricane Lili took aim for the Louisiana coast, Governor Mike Foster determined many medical patients could be in grave danger and requested the assistance of the military. That is when officials here were called.

"It was a really big team effort," said Lt. Col. David Dintaman, a pilot from the 11th Airlift Squadron here who flew one of the two aircraft. "It was really rewarding to get to do something like this. A lot of times we have exercises where we are practicing for a wartime mission, but this was real. These were all litter patients, including some critical ones, so it was definitely a worthwhile mission."

After receiving the initial notification about the mission at approximately 9:30 p.m. Oct. 2, through coordination with Air Mobility Command and the Tanker Airlift Control Center, the mission was given the go ahead at 11:20 p.m. Everything was pulled together, including preparing the aircraft and assembling crews, so that the first plane departed Scott at 1:09 a.m. and the second took off at 1:24 a.m. By 3:50 a.m. they were loading patients and 23 litter patients were loaded onto the first plane and 18 were loaded onto the second aircraft.

The two planes and their 41 patients then flew to Shreveport where both local crews and medical people from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base loaded ambulances to bring the patients to medical facilities there.

"They seemed to be almost running out of ambulances, there were so many patients," Dintaman said. "They were lined up, probably about 10 in a row at once. One would drive to the hospital with patients and then come back again to pick up a couple more."

"It went great," said Maj. Renee Espinosa, a 375th Medical Group doctor. "Everybody made it safely, staff as well as the patients. They were some very nice patients. It was a little cramped in there, but they understood we had to get them out then or never."

Both planes and crews returned here at around 9 a.m. Oct. 3.

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