HomeNewsArticle Display

The AFMS in the Persian Gulf War, the need for critical care

Medical personnel prepare Corporal Richard Ramirez, a member of the 1st Marine Division, for medical evacuation by a C-141B Starlifter aircraft from Al-Jubail Airport to Germany for treatment of chest wounds sustained during Operation Desert Storm. During this time, Aeromedical Evacuation teams were prepared and were able to transport up to 3,600 casualties a day.

Medical personnel prepare Corporal Richard Ramirez, a member of the 1st Marine Division, for medical evacuation by a C-141B Starlifter aircraft from Al-Jubail Airport to Germany for treatment of chest wounds sustained during Operation Desert Storm. During this time, Aeromedical Evacuation teams were prepared and were able to transport up to 3,600 casualties a day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs)

Tech. Sgt. Theresa Hillis, front, of the 68th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, Calif.; Senior Master Sgt. James Cundall, right, of the 118th AES, Tennessee Air National Guard, Nashville, Tenn.; and Tech. Sgt. Dennis Mulline, left, of the 137th AES receive a mission briefing during Operation Desert Storm.

Tech. Sgt. Theresa Hillis, front, of the 68th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Norton Air Force Base, Calif.; Senior Master Sgt. James Cundall, right, of the 118th AES, Tennessee Air National Guard, Nashville, Tenn.; and Tech. Sgt. Dennis Mulline, left, of the 137th AES receive a mission briefing during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sgt. Kimberly Yearyean)

Medical personnel use litters to transport Cpl. Richard Ramirez, 1st Marine Division, and other wounded to a C-141B Starlifter aircraft. The patients are being medically evacuated from Al-Jubayl Air Base to Germany for treatment of wounds received during Operation Desert Storm.

Medical personnel use litters to transport Cpl. Richard Ramirez, 1st Marine Division, and other wounded to a C-141B Starlifter aircraft. The patients are being medically evacuated from Al-Jubayl Air Base to Germany for treatment of wounds received during Operation Desert Storm. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Von Bannisseht)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS) --

January 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of Desert Storm, and it also marks a turning point in Air Force Medical Service’s Critical Care Transport Teams. 

 

“We were not serving the Army as well as we could have in the Air Force,” explained Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Paul K. Carlton, a former Air Force Surgeon General who had been working on the concept of CCATT since the 1980s.

 

As the U.S. military and its allies assembled in the Middle East in the summer and fall of 1990 - Operation Desert Shield - in response to Iraq President Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, then-Col. Carlton set up the 1,200-bed Air Force 1702nd Contingency Hospital in combination with an Army Combat Support Hospital outside of Muscat, Oman. Yet, as Operation Desert Shield turned to Operation Desert Storm on January 19, 1991, the hospital only took in 42 patients, and those were only from surrounding bases. 

 

“We did not get any war wounded,” said Carlton, who offered beds to the Central Command surgeon in an effort to better utilize the facility.

 

To make the case for his hospital, Carlton traveled to the battlefield to offer assistance. “I picked up a couple of Air-EVAC missions just to let more people know we existed,” he said. “I told Army commanders to send anyone to us.” But it soon became apparent the Air Force could not meet the Army’s needs. “We could not take people with catheters or tubes, much less needing a ventilator.”

 

Instead of relying on the Air Force, the Army built large hospitals closer to the front. “The Army built up just like they did in Vietnam,” Carlton said. “They had a very big footprint.” 

 

AFMS leadership wanted smaller hospitals connecting back to the United States, but to do that, they needed a modern transportation system. Although Carlton and other colleagues had been working on improvements to patient transportation since 1983, air evacuations were still very restrictive. The equipment needed to keep a patient alive was new and untested. 

 

“Modern ventilators blew out lungs all the time,” Carlton explained. “We needed to work the kinks out and we needed the opportunity to work in the modern battlefield. We needed critical care in the air.”

 

When the war ended in late February, Carlton and other AFMS officers returned home and brought their CCATT ideas to the Air Training Command. 

 

“The war was not an aberration,” Carlton said. “We had to modernize our theater plans to be able to transport patients.” 

 

Carlton and his colleagues trained three-person crews to work with new and improved ventilation equipment aboard airplanes. 

 

“That was the long pole in the tent,” he explained. “When you take a critical care patient you say ‘we can ventilate that patient,’ and you better be able to.” 

 

With the new program up and running, the AFMS made CCATT available to the other services.

 

CCATT gained momentum in 1993 when Carlton and his colleagues traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia, for an after-action brief on the U.S. Army’s “Blackhawk Down” engagement and explained CCATT to the Joint Special Operations Command surgeon. He, in turn, handed Carlton a check and said “I want that as soon as you can make it.”

 

The turning point came in 1995 during the Bosnian War, when an American Soldier riding a train to Bosnia was electrocuted by an overhead wire and fell off the train. He was immediately transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where doctors wanted him transferred to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. When Maj. (Dr.) Bill Beninati picked up the patient for the flight to the United States, he was still very unstable. Somewhere over Greenland, the patient went into septic shock and Beniniati and his team resuscitated him. When they touched down in San Antonio, some 12 hours later, the patient was in better shape than when he left. 

 

“That’s when the Army took notice,” Carlton said. “We had convinced them that we could do what we said.”

 

Soon, the Air Force Surgeon General at the time, Lt. Gen. Alexander Sloan, approved the CCATT concept. Later, with the strong endorsement of Air Force Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Charles Roadman II, CCATT became a formal program.

 

CCATT proved invaluable in the next conflict, Operation Iraqi Freedom, where casualty evacuation became a vital necessity, as well as in Afghanistan. Carlton is proud of CCATT. 

 

“We have developed a modern transportation system to go along with the modern battlefield for the Army, Navy, and the Marines,” Carlton said. 

 

Today, CCATT is considered a vital component of AFMS, but it took a war to liberate Kuwait some 25 years ago for the military to realize how badly it was needed.

Engage

Twitter
One step closer... #AirForce Officer Training School candidates complete a four-phase, nine-and-a-half week progra… https://t.co/gQNQ2IMlim
Twitter
You got this! 💪 https://t.co/WnevIeJbQ4
Twitter
Not a bad way to cool off in the summer. The 815th Airlift Squadron's Reserve #Airmen visited Alaska to airlift o… https://t.co/DElqEx4JwJ
Twitter
RT @USAFRecruiting: Built different 😤 These @airforcespecwar exercises will put your strength to the test and show you what muscles these…
Twitter
Another Air Force week complete, and we've got it in photos! View the rest here: https://t.co/OkjRFKvDjz https://t.co/HXcWkJN35U
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: On behalf of our #Airmen and families, congrats and welcome to Ms. Jones, our new Under Secretary of the @usairforce. #…
Twitter
Jumping into the weekend Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron pe… https://t.co/VLRxCb90mw
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Getting ready for the big leap into civilian life? #Airmen preparing to separate from active duty service can take steps towar…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary Roth on the confirmation of Gina Ortiz Jones to serve as the Under Secretary of the Air Force. ⬇️ https…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Confirmed yesterday by the Senate, Gina Ortiz Jones will be the next Under Secretary of the Air Force! Read more ⬇️ @US
Twitter
The Senate unanimously confirmed Gina Ortiz Jones to be Under Secretary of the Air Force, clearing the way for the… https://t.co/Q8SFw2fq45
Twitter
Hundreds of Airmen participated alongside @USArmy Soldiers in the inaugural Pacific Warriorz 2021 Joint and Total… https://t.co/fAPp4UGjmW
Twitter
RT @US_EUCOM: #JF21-2 is designed to test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense & crisis response assistance i…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Thanks to the conservation upgrades, Keesler AFB expects an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 p…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@Spangdahlem_AB was the first wing in @HQUSAFEAFAF capable of Agile Combat Employment. Being agile & persistent is a m…
Twitter
After catastrophic flooding in Germany & Belgium, @Spangdahlem_AB volunteers provide relief. “80% of people on Sp… https://t.co/6roLIRoFT0
Twitter
RT @Southcom: Supporting our partners in #Suriname: A @usairforce C-17 from @TeamCharleston delivered a field hospital to Suriname July 1…
Twitter
Congratulatons! 🎓 https://t.co/dzK8o0E9rK
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: On the latest edition of the Air Force Starts Here Podcast, we discuss the modernization of the @usairforce Career Developm…
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
1,354,269
Follow Us