PJ medical training returns to Kirtland

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Julie Briggs
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
Medical instruction for Air Force pararescuemen, or PJs, returns to Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., on Oct. 2 when 19 students start their training.

Air Force PJs will no longer receive medical training at Fort Bragg, N.C. Instead, Detachment 1 of the 342nd Training Squadron, the Air Force pararescue school, will handle the training as it did more than six years ago.

The change means only one permanent change-of-station move for students during the 18 months it takes to complete their training.

"Regulations state that when a training course is 20 weeks or longer, the student must PCS to that training location," said Chief Master Sgt. Ed Lundberg, Air Education and Training Command's pararescue functional manager. "Since medical training is more than 20 weeks long, students would have to PCS."

In the past, students would PCS to Fort Bragg for medical training and then PCS again to Kirtland for pararescue school, with at least four temporary duty assignments in between to Key West, Fla., for combat dive training; Fort Benning, Ga., for airborne training; Fort Bragg, N.C., and Yuma, Ariz., for military free fall training; and Fairchild AFB, Wash., for combat survival school and underwater egress training.

"This was a hardship for our students and their families," Lundberg said. "It meant two PCS's during their training. Now, they only have one."

Medical training consists of two consecutive courses: the four-week pararescue emergency medical training basic course and the 17-week pararescue EMT paramedic course. Co-locating medical training with the pararescue school means students and instructors can now consolidate two of the PJs longest training courses at one home base.

"Home-basing is a retention aid, especially for our first-term pararescue students," Lundberg said.

One PCS move also saves money. According to Lundberg, the estimated annual cost savings is $159,000, primarily because of the reduced PCS costs.

Other benefits are decreased training time and better use of students' time between courses, Lundberg said.

Medical training is 24 weeks at Fort Bragg, but only 21 weeks at Kirtland. The course was shortened because only Air Force requirements are taught.

"At a (Department of Defense) school, the course must cover basic requirements for each attending service," Lundberg said. "As a result, Air Force students were required to learn Army and Navy specific items, primarily in administrative areas, and vice versa. Now our students can concentrate solely on those areas Air Force PJs need to know."

Another benefit is decreased between-course waiting time, Lundberg said. For example, after a PCS move to Kirtland, students can attend the three-week airborne training course at Fort Benning while they wait for the medical training course to start.

"This means we can get students through the (training) pipeline faster," Lundberg said.

Home-basing is also expected to foster mentorship, team building and esprit de corps.

"Home-basing means PJs get their training more efficiently and in a timely manner," Lundberg said. "It's also a big win for the student. He no longer has to worry about moving twice in one year and he can concentrate on learning the roles and missions of a PJ." (Courtesy of AETC News Service)