Civil engineers build medical facility, save AF thousands

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Consistent with fluctuating operations in deployed locations, the ability to quickly and efficiently build structures to house new missions is crucial. The 1st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Group here has specialized teams of Airmen who support projects to fulfill construction requirements.

"When a building project is time and cost sensitive, the (Department of Defense) look for more efficient ways to complete it," said Capt. Nick Saccone, the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron engineering flight chief. "That's where 1st ECEG comes in, particularly RED HORSE in this scenario. We are an all-military unit that can deploy to any site and build these same structures, but for half the time and half the cost of a civilian contractor."

Recently, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing acquired a new mission and RED HORSE was tasked to design and build a contingency aeromedical staging facility in compliance with a U.S. Central Command directive to have the facility up and running by January 2014, Saccone explained.

"The CASF will provide continuous medical treatment, which cannot be provided in a forward deployed location until the member returns to his or her home unit," said Master Sgt. Franziska Ives, the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron Emergency Room flight chief. "The new building will provide more comfortable holding areas as well as increase the number of patients that can be treated and transitioned in the 12-to 72-hour period."

Once the task came down to build to facility, the 557th ERHS immediately entered the design phase.

"We have trained and knowledgeable Air Force engineers who work in a design planning cell made up of electricians, water and fuels systems maintainers, structures craftsmen, heating ventilation and air conditioning specialists and horizontal heavy repairmen," said Tech Sgt. Thomas Bryant, a 557th ERHS CASF project manager.

With coordination from the hospital, this team of Air Force specialists was able to completely design the CASF from the ground up.

"We coordinated every detail with the customer from where to place the HVAC unit, to the color of the paint on the walls," Saccone said. "Only after the design was at 100 percent, did we then order materials -- the second phase."

The 557th ERHS operations and logistics teams work together during the second phase to make sure all materials needed for the construction are shipped to the site to complete the project.

The engineers have now entered the final phase, construction, and laid the foundation for the new facility slated for completion mid-December. The construction of the CASF, worth an estimated $1.3 million, will only cost $691,000, saving the Air Force thousands.

The 1st ECEG has components located in seven locations within the CENTCOM and U.S. African Command areas of responsibility where they support building and runway projects tasked down from the Combined Force Air Component Commander.

"Since I've been here, we've had 33 building projects throughout the area of responsibility and saved the Air Force an estimated $12 million," Saccone said.

"No one has the capability or mission set to support expedient construction like we (1st ECEG) do," Saccone said. "We can forward deploy to support missions in the AOR within 12 hours and because of that capability, I feel we are the premier engineering unit to support the CFACC's requirements for construction."