HomeNewsArticle Display

Rapid Antarctic airlift saves lives

A C-17 Globmaster III sits on the runway at McMurdo Station in Antarctic. At the request of the National Science Foundation, aircrews from the 304th Expeditionary Air Squadron supported an emergency medical evacuation of two patients Aug. 25. (Courtesy photo)

A C-17 Globemaster III sits on the runway at McMurdo Station in Antarctic. At the request of the National Science Foundation, aircrews from the 304th Expeditionary Air Squadron supported an emergency medical evacuation of two patients Aug. 25. (Courtesy photo)

A Christchurch New Zealand Life Fleet medical team loads response equipment onto the C-17 Globemaster III for an emergency MEDEVAC from the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station in the Antarctic Aug. 25. (Courtesy photo)

A Christchurch New Zealand Life Fleet medical team loads response equipment onto the C-17 Globemaster III for an emergency medevac from the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station in the Antarctic Aug. 25. (Courtesy photo)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Just after completing the final flight of the Southern Hemisphere winter Antarctic season, the 304th Expeditionary Air Squadron was alerted there was a medical emergency at the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station Aug. 25.

In the face of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, the 304th EAS was able to redirect a mission to respond to the medical evacuation and use a local Christchurch New Zealand Life Fleet medical team to save time.

“We were in alert position to leave for Guam, and when I woke up, there was a note under my door that read we were now going to do a medevac mission,” said Lt. Col. Bruce Cohn, 97th Airlift Squadron pilot.

Planners worked throughout the night to switch from a ‘go home’ mission to medevac mission in order to airlift two patients to medical facilities in Christchurch. During the flight to the Antarctic, aircrew were able to interact with the New Zealand Life Fleet medical team to orient them to the C-17 Globemaster III.

“The team was great to work with, and this was their first aeromedical evacuation mission and flight on a military aircraft,” Cohn said.

Upon landing, weather impacted the medevac mission.

“Weather was favorable for the arrival except temperatures at the time of landing were much colder than previously forecasted,” said Lt. Col. Trace Dotson, the 304th EAS commander.

The crew worked quickly in negative 65.2 Fahrenheit conditions to safely evacuate one critically ill patient and another patient needing medical care.

“There was a lot of coordination with the New Zealand Life Fleet medical personnel as we usually work with Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation teams,” said Tech. Sgt. Seth Lewis, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “The increased coordination helped us perform the medevac safely. It was so cold that we weren’t able to open up the back of the aircraft, so the patients were loaded through the crew door, which is located on the front left side of the aircraft.”

With a wind-chill of negative 94 Fahrenheit, crew minimized time on the ground due to the extreme cold and returned the patients to Christchurch within 24 hours from the time we were notified of the evacuation request, Dotson said.

“This mission was outside normal operations since it was an emergency situation,” Cohn said. “The rapidness of how we changed gear to respond really showed the teamwork of all who were involved.”

The rapid, life-saving response demonstrated the flexibility and capabilities of the Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica to respond quickly to emergency situations in the Antarctic. The patients were treated in New Zealand medical facilities.

“This was a complete different mission from what we typically do,” Lewis said. “It was really special to be part of something that you weren’t expecting. I was expecting to go home, but then I got to participate in a medical evacuation to help two people.”

The last dedicated medevac mission the 304th EAS supported was in 2013. The 304th is comprised of blended aircrews from the active duty 62nd Airlift Wing and the reserve 446th Airlift Wing.

The NSF manages the U.S. Antarctic Program. Operation Deep Freeze is the logistical support provided by the DoD to the U. S. Antarctic Program. This includes the coordination of strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical intra-theater airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation support, search-and-rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling, and transportation requirements supporting the NSF.

This is a unique mission that demonstrates U.S. commitment to stability in the Pacific and research programs conducted for the betterment of all mankind.

Engage

Twitter
CMSgt Bass installed as the Air Force’s 19th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. @cmsaf_official #AimHigh https://t.co/DN38IdsXhu
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@cmsaf_official has the passion, the skills, and the strength of character we need to lead us…to face head-on the demand…
Twitter
Lt Gen David Allvin nominated to become Air Force Vice Chief of Staff https://t.co/JST6kf0H4g
Twitter
RT @AFGlobalStrike: The #Strikers of @AFGlobalStrike congratulation CMSgt Kaleth O. Wright on his retirement, and welcome @cmsaf_official C…
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceCSO: Congrats to CMSgt Joanne Bass, @usairforce CMSAF #19! Mollie & I are looking forward to working with you & Rahn in suppo…
Twitter
Join us for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA at 9:30AM EDT.… https://t.co/uUYv7TgMeb
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: #Airmen load up a C-130J Super Hercules before heading to #Bulgaria for Thracian Fall 2020. The @usairforce trains with B…
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: Airmen and Soldiers from the @CTNationalGuard delivered 21,000 cases of water from @fema to towns throughout the state in…
Twitter
RT @usairforce: “I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force...be dreamers – dream big.” - @CSMAF_Official #ReadyAF
Twitter
Join us for the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force transition ceremony LIVE from @Andrews_JBA TOMORROW at 9:30AM ED… https://t.co/ok6km7nFoS
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Teammates, Let me start with 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒏𝒌 𝒚𝒐𝒖. https://t.co/xU6U3QuZV7
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Engaging through listening sessions, senior leaders are hearing directly from #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals on diversi…
Twitter
RT @PACAF: JUST IN: Three #B2 Spirits from @Whiteman_AFB deployed to Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in support of #BTF missions. @IND
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The #Airmen at @Creech_AFB make a global impact 24/7. The RPAs they operate provide vital intelligence and strike capabi…
Twitter
"I'm confident that our Air Force can continue to be the most dominant and respected Air Force in the world." -… https://t.co/PZQzLUGBxz
Twitter
Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to @INGuardsman participate in close air support training. TACPs provide… https://t.co/BcyiAmfFmV
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: The @140Wg became the first ANG unit to successfully execute an agile combat employment exercise while at @Buckley_AFB. T…
Twitter
“I’m a dental tech who became Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force...be dreamers – dream big.” - @CSMAF_Officialhttps://t.co/AKSjyQNq4s
Twitter
A C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 317th Airlift Wing flies during a Joint Forcible Entry exercise at Dyess… https://t.co/t3VXu0ZYWj
Twitter
Pentagon staff applaud @cmsaf_official as he exits the Pentagon for the last time as Chief Master Sgt. of the Air… https://t.co/c9RXsc3lAO
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
1,267,165
Follow Us