Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

July 19, 2011 at 2:21pm

McChord to host aeromedical evac conference

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Hundreds of aeromedical evacuation professionals will gather here July 20 to 21 for the first, U.S.-led international symposium on in-flight medical care.

The International Aeromedical Evacuation/En Route Care Conference features speakers from a variety of countries sharing their stories, advice and lessons learned with hundreds of fellow doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical specialists. Officials expect representatives from 28 nations to attend the event.

"Different countries call it different things, so we wanted an all-encompassing get-together for anyone who provides any level of medical care in an aerial transportation role," explained Col. Beverly Johnson, the Air Mobility Command chief of aeromedical evacuation at the command surgeon general's office. "What's most important is that we all have the opportunity to share with each other information about our respective capabilities. If we're all aware of we can each do, it's easier to come together and work quickly, effectively and seamlessly in a contingency situation.

"Really, it's all about how we can work together to save lives," she added.

The colonel played an instrumental role in creating the plan for evacuating Sailors and Marines after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. A conference like this, she said, would have been especially beneficial back then.

"When nations partner together before an emergency, it becomes a great deal easier to operate during an emergency," Johnson said. "It becomes easier to understand each other, easier to execute the mission and builds confidence among allies. And that's what this conference is all about."

Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., the AMC commander, will be the keynote speaker for the event. In addition, experts from around the Air Force as well as Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Jordan and New Zealand will address the group on a variety of subjects. Retired Airmen and civilians will also speak to the group.

"I'd like to see people find common ground and understanding when it comes to the aeromedical evacuation mission," Johnson said. "We all have similar challenges and resource constraints, so it's important to find ways to collaborate and help each other. This is especially true when it comes to teaching nations how to build their own AE capability, like in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The AE mission, however, isn't just restricted to wartime use, the colonel pointed out.

"That's one of the other things we want to show some of our international partners," she said. "We had a lot of success working with other countries after the volcano eruption in Iceland and in the wake of the earthquakes in Japan. There are a lot of lessons we all can learn from each other."

Several members of the South Korean air force are attending the conference as observers to learn how other countries perform their aeromedical evacuation missions.

"In Korea, we have limited experience with AE," said Maj. Kyungpil Choi, a South Korean air force flight surgeon. "I'm hoping to learn how other countries train and construct their teams and how they manage their transportation systems. We're pretty excited about it all."

The conference coincides with the lead-up to the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo, a biennial international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world.

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