Reserve, Guard train for aeromedical evacuation operations
By Jessica L. Kendziorek, 403rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 28, 2020
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) -- From broken bones, burns to head trauma, loss of limbs and more; aeromedical evacuation teams see more than their fair share of battle injuries.
Reservists from the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Mississippi Air National Guardsmen from the 183rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron collaborated for a three-day training event to work as one team, focused on patient care and handling, during a simulated air evacuation of injured service members.
“By working with the 36th AES we were able to put together training for two different airframes,” said Tech Sgt. Jarrett Lyle, 183rd AES aeromedical technician. “We were able to train on each other’s routine airframes.”
In this case the 36th AES were able to train aboard the C-17 Globemaster III, while the members of the 183rd AES got the opportunity to train on the C-130J Super Hercules.
All aeromedical evacuation crews are required to be qualified on universal airframes, such as the C-130J Hercules, C17 and KC-135 Stratotanker, but they don’t always get the chance to practice on how to configure different aircraft other than the ones at their respective units.
“The more we get familiar with the universal airframes, get hands-on training with configuring them, the more prepared we are for getting out the door on a deployment,” Lyle said.
Configuring aircraft was not the only training that was accomplished.
The two aeromedical evacuation units set up an aeromedical evacuation operations team, which is the ground crew or mission support crew for the actual evacuation mission.
“I worked as the aeromedical evacuation operations officer (AEOO) for the first two days of the training,” said 1st Lt. Daniel Clesi, 36th AES officer in charge of mission management. “My job is to work with the ‘bulldog,’ or AEOO, for an Aeromedical Staging Squadron, or the originating facility.”
The training missions were set up as start-to-finish missions; receiving patient information, setting up an aeromedical evacuation crew and then getting the patient to their final destination, which for this event was the same location.
“We take the information from the U.S. Transportation Command Regulating and Command & Control Evacuation System (TRAC2ES), and create a list of patients that will be picked up from their originating location and transported to the receiving medical facility,” said 1st Lt. Jamison Wilson, 183rd AES medical services corps officer.
The TRAC2ES system provides the team with the name of the patient, condition, equipment needs, dietary restrictions, medications, destination facility and any other important information that is required for the aeromedical evacuation crew to be aware of for each patient.
“This also notifies us about critical patients, who are typically the highest severity,” Wilson said. “We then alert a critical care air transport team, which would be needed to maintain that patient’s stability.”
During this training event, two missions departed and landed back at the Mississippi’s Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center, using the C-17 Globemaster III and one of the missions did the same at Keesler Air Force Base on the C-130J Super Hercules.
With the integrated training, some of the newer members were able to experience air evacuation from both perspectives, as a crew member and as a patient.
Capt. Jonathan Marek, 36th AES flight nurse, said that having the new aeromedical evacuation members acting as simulated patients gives them the understanding of what the patients experience when it comes to being strapped onto a litter and having to trust those carrying you to keep you safe.
Training for aeromedical evacuation crew positions is required to be consistent and standard across the AE community, and having standardized kits makes training together simpler. Plus, this way everyone is ready to spin up and fly the mission regardless of their unit.
“These scenarios, with crews made up of other units, are pretty realistic as to what would happen in a real-world situation,” Marek said. “You are not going to fly with the same people you fly with from your unit when you go downrange. The crews are going to be mixed; different units and a mix of Guard, Active and Reserve.”
“The overall experience was a good one,” Clesi said. “Everyone gelled pretty quickly and we had three missions and three mission completes.”
Both Clesi and Lyle said that they hope to continue the joint training in the future, whether it is regularly scheduled trainers around monthly drills or even quarterly, since the units are so close.
“Mississippi is unique in that all three of the universal airframes are located here,” Lyle said. “Hopefully as we continue these joint ventures in the future, we could add the KC-135 airframe into our training scenarios.”