Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: May, 2010 (11) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 11

May 3, 2010 at 5:20am

McChord airman, others cross train with Germans

German military Chief Master Sgt Klaus Zuaihasch, a medical crew chief at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, gives U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Gainer, commander, 455th Aero Medical Evacuation flight a tour of a German C-160 aero medical evacuation aircraft, Ap

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, Afghanistan-U.S. and German aeromedical evacuation units met to gain insight, share ideas and coordinate joint evacuation efforts at International Security Assistance Force Regional Command North's Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, April 24-26.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Gainer, 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight commander, and other U.S. aeromedical experts used the three-day visit with their German counterparts to exchange ideas on ways to improve the evacuation process in a coalition environment. 

"We are trying to establish a smoother flow of communication between all of the (aeromedical evacuation) agencies and interoperability with our equipment and airframes," said Colonel Gainer, deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "We want to identify what equipment does not work well together and try to develop an understanding of how we can work together to improve the process."

According to German Col. Thomas Stahl, German Medical Task Force, Afghanistan, commander, and medical adviser to the RC-North commander, although the medical evacuation systems of the coalition countries are not very different, there are different medical policies and philosophies between forces and a common ground must be reached to ensure the best most timely medical care is given to patients. 

"We are potentially going from a few hundred to a few thousand U.S. forces in the RC-North region in the next few months," added Colonel Gainer. "With this growth, the potential for medical and casualty evacuation could rise and we want to ensure the system is in place and ready to go if needed."

Gainer explained that although the German aeromedical evacuation is outstanding, their German C-160 aeromedical evacuation aircraft has a smaller capacity for transporting patients than that of the U.S. aircraft, which means in the event of a mass transport situation, the system could become overwhelmed with patients. 

"A lot of our people are not able to speak English; a lot of other nations in the theater are not able to speak English and that can cause a problem," explained German Chief Master Sgt. Klaus Zuaihasch, a medical crew chief on the German C-160 medical evacuation aircraft. 

The type of power used to operate equipment, different medications and dosage are all issues Stahl sees as a challenge to the combined medical evacuation effort. He added that even the way patients are transported from the medical facility to the aircraft can present a challenge.

Zuaihasch said equipment standardization is a key component to creating a fluid patient transfer process where patients can go from aircraft to aircraft and hospital to hospital without compromising the level of care. "We are not able to give our litters to the Americans because they have (different) litters than the Germans, so when we hand over intensive care patients, there is added stress on the patients."

He added meetings between coalition medical teams are great because they give each country a chance to see and learn about equipment the other uses and gives both sides a chance to gain a better understanding of the other processes its patients. 

Gainer agreed, adding sometimes the process has to be coordinated through a number of channels before the mission actually leaves the ground. He explained all U.S. fixed-wing aeromedical evacuation orders come from the Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Southwest Asia. Rotary wing casualty evacuation is controlled through each regional command's patient evacuation center in which the German aeromedical evacuation teams are located along with the RC-North PEC. Sometimes communication between all agencies involved in the patient transfer process can be a challenge. 

"They work on a different telephone system than we do," said Gainer. "We are working to get some of our systems to their areas to help with information flow but it is going to take some time and the access will be limited. Until these systems are in place it is going to take a greater effort to ensure everyone knows the plan for patient movement so everyone is ready and there are no delays." 

He lauded the care at the German medical facility as, "Top notch western medicine at its finest." Gainer thinks one of the greatest parts of a deployment is getting to work with other NATO countries to share ideas and information to improve the way everyone does business. 

"I expected a great visit, but it was clear to me that we were both interested in providing the best care for patients, whether they are coalition or U.S.," said Gainer. "We are very excited about the opportunity to work together and I think both countries will benefit from the strong relationship we are developing."    

May 3, 2010 at 5:28am

446 AW quarterly award winners

Quarterly award winners for the 446th Airlift Wing, first quarter are:

Officers of the Quarter
Field Grade Officer - Maj. Jere High, 446th Civil Engineer Squadron
Company Grade Officer - Capt. Vanessa Balint, 446th Mission Support Squadron

Airmen of the Quarter
The 446th AW Airmen of the Quarter, 1st Quarter are:
Senior NCO - Master Sgt. Scott Terra, 728th Airlift Squadron
NCO - Tech. Sgt. Glen Tuttle, 446th CES
Airman - Senior Airman Mitchell Williams, 97th AS    

May 6, 2010 at 3:52pm

McChord airman helps injured motorist

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Doing the right thing seems automatic for some people.

Staff Sgt. Nigel Norcisa, 8th Airlift Squadron, and a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster at McChord Field, is one of those people.

Norcisa grew up in an Air Force family in Dover, Del. His father's guiding philosophy influences his life to this day.

"Nigel, never look down on a man unless you are extending your hand to help him up," his father used to say.

Norcisa put his father's advice to work on the streets of Tacoma recently.

While driving to a dinner date, the 32-year-old Airman spotted a car driving erratically. 

"It veered to the left, barely missing an oncoming car and then piled into a telephone pole," Sergeant Norcisa said.

Immediately, he pulled over to help the driver.

"It was an automatic reaction. I thought about it later. Had that been my mother, sister, father or someone I knew in that car, I would hope that others would help. It's just the right thing to do," said Sergeant Norcisa.

Trained in first aid, Norcisa jumped into action.

He found the driver slumped over and in a state of confusion.

"He was an older gentleman, and the airbags had deployed and hit him squarely in the face. I pulled him out and seated him on the curb. The engine was still running and smoking, so I shut it off. I looked in the front seat and found his glasses," Sergeant Norcisa said.

The rapid inflation of air bags striking the driver full in the face had created some bloody bruising around his eyes. Neither car had a first-aid kit, so Norcisa improvised with some paper towels. After following up with a few short questions concerning the driver's welfare, Norcisa called 911. Norcisa stayed with the driver until emergency medical help arrived. He gave them contact information and later spoke with an investigating police officer.

Col. Glenn G. Rousseau, 8th Airlift Squadron Operations Group commander, recognized Norcisa's actions by presenting him with a commander's coin recently.

Capt. Adam Schubert has known Norcisa for about four years. He said assisting an injured motorist is characteristic of Norcisa's personality.

"He's a great Airman," Captain Schubert said.

"Sergeant Norcisa is a natural-born leader. He could have just continued to drive by, but that option didn't even enter his mind," said Captain Schubert. "It doesn't surprise me that he rendered immediate assistance to the driver in Tacoma."

Norcisa will soon take an assignment at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., as a C-17 instructor loadmaster, with the 58th Airlift Squadron.

May 7, 2010 at 12:40pm

Nonprofit strives to help unemployed vets

The Seattle Times has a great story about "Hire America's Heroes," a 3-year-old nonprofit group that hosted a symposium Thursday at JBLM-McChord Field as part of an effort to help veterans find jobs. 

Read more about the symposium here.

May 10, 2010 at 4:25pm

Company fined for cheap steel at McChord

Business Week has the story on an Alaska Company fined for using cheap steel to build fences around McChord.

May 11, 2010 at 12:58pm

Boeing C-17 workers in Long Beach strike

Boeing C-17 line workers began a strike just past midnight today at Long Beach's largest private employer, grinding production to a halt on one of the world's leading cargo jets, the Long Beach Press Telegram reported today.

The walkout comes nearly a week after talks broke down on negotiations for a labor contract covering some 1,700 workers responsible for assembly of the jumbo-size airlifter, according to the paper.

For more on the story, click here.

May 12, 2010 at 10:35am

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a formation!

If you see a handful of C-17 Globemaster IIIs filling the sky today, don't worry, it's all part of a special mission at McChord Field.

A large formation of C-17s took off this morning to train for their strategic airdrop mission. Seven C-17s will began taking off at about 10 a.m. and will fly throughout the local area.

Along with active-duty and reserve airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings, airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron and soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are participating in the training exercise, according to McChord Field public affairs.

At different points in the training exercise, aircrews will air drop heavy equipment and personnel. C-17 Globemaster III transporters must be able to meet the Army's goal of airdropping a brigade's worth of troops and equipment within 30 minutes.   The strategic brigade airdrop capability resides only in the C-17 community, according to PA.

May 24, 2010 at 2:36pm

8th Airlift Squadron airmen settle in

Airmen from the 8th Airlift Squadron, which left for a 120-day deployment April 22, are getting settled into their mission. Here is a report on their progress, written by a public affairs airman deployed from JBLM.

May 25, 2010 at 7:42am

Airdropping in Afghanistan with the C-17

Forty container-delivery-system bundles parachute to the ground from a C-17 Globemaster III May 9, over a drop zone in Afghanistan.

SOUTHWEST ASIA - Less than 30 seconds ... that's all it takes for 40 container-delivery-system bundles - totaling 70,000 pounds of supplies - to drop out of the back of a C-17 Globemaster III.

As the bundles parachute deploy and descend toward the designated drop zone, Airmen from the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron watch another successful delivery of supplies to war-fighters on the ground. While it takes a just thirty seconds for the bundles to be air dropped, a successful mission like this begins way before takeoff.

"For an airdrop to be successful, it all starts with Soldiers and Airmen working as a team," said Maj. Mike Parker, an 816th EAS C-17 pilot at a location in Southwest Asia deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. "People always see the end result of an airdrop, but without our joint team we couldn't deliver the supplies war-fighters need to be successful."

After a request for supplies is put in from troops on the ground, a small team of 20 Soldiers from the 824th Quartermasters Company, Detachment 8, deployed from Fort Bragg, N.C., come together to load life-essential supplies into bundles that will be air dropped over the battlefield.

"We're a small team but we understand the impact our mission - combined with the Air Force - has for our forces on the ground," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Hall, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger. "It's a big challenge for us to take on but we do it with pride."

Each bundle takes approximately 20 minutes to build. To create a full load of 40 bundles for a C-17 takes more than 800 man-hours. 

These Army riggers build bundles that can weigh up to 2,200 pounds - containing life-sustaining food, water, fuel, ammunition and other supplies. In the month of April Soldiers with the unit built over 1,000 bundles totaling more than 1.6 million pounds for troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

"We can take pride in the fact that what we're doing is directly supporting war-fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever supplies are needed in theater," said Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Hall, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger. "Our team puts a lot of effort into ensuring we get the bundles we rig right the first time. We understand that somebody is relying on us to get them the supplies they need to complete their various missions."

After bundles are rigged and ready for delivery, Airmen from the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron take them to waiting aircraft for delivery. It can take from one to three hours to get bundles loaded on an aircraft.

"Sometimes we get overlooked in the air-drop process," said Tech. Sgt. Collin Skinner, 8th EAMS aerial porter at a location in Southwest Asia and deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. "But there're no small parts in the process, our aerial porters are out here every day making sure people and supplies get to their destinations. It's a total team effort and we're happy to be a part of it." 

After the bundles are loaded aboard the aircraft a joint team of Soldiers and Airmen spent about an hour inspecting each bundle to ensure they are secure and parachutes are ready to deploy when they are dropped out of the aircraft. 

"Almost 100 percent of the time when we get bundles from the Soldiers, they're ready for delivery," said Senior Airman Brandon Ybarra, 816th EAS loadmaster and air-drop inspector deployed from JBLM. "These guys are good at what they do and I love working with them."

"We don't normally work with the Air Force back home, so this is a unique experience for us," said Army Specialist Jacob Menster, 824th QC, Det. 8 rigger and air-drop inspector deployed from Fort Bragg. "It has been great to see how the air drop process works and come together as a cohesive team to ensure we have a successful deliveries of the bundles."

After the inspection is compete Airmen take off and to make the delivery, only after coordinating with war-fighters on the ground.

"Communication and teamwork are what makes us a valuable asset for our air and ground commanders," said Major Parker, a native of Simpson, Ill. "Airmen and Soldiers work at home station, aircrews flying with precision, and ground assets telling us where to drop supplies means success for our war-fighters., "

Less than 30 seconds is all it takes for the bundles to drop out of the back, but for war-fighters on the ground, the success comes because of the time Airmen and Soldiers put into working as a team.

May 26, 2010 at 5:00pm

Journalist flies on air combat mission

ABC News' Martha Raddatz recently became the first journalist to fly aboard an Air Force F-15 fighter jet on a combat mission over Afghanistan.    

Read the story here.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force, Afghanistan,

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