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McChord Reserve unit moves into new home

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With the instant slice of a red ribbon, Citizen Airmen with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here celebrated the inauguration of their new home in Hangar 12, Feb. 9.

Originally, they shared Bldg. 691 with the 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron. However, packing two squadrons with more than 300 Reservists into one building made completing mission-training a daunting task for both medical units.

"We were collocated with the Aerospace Medicine Squadron over in Bldg. 691," said Col. Rob Richardson, 446th ASTS commander. "From working in that crowded environment over several years, we noticed it was not conducive for either squadron's ability to do their mission."

With so much overcrowding, the squadron's training materials were spread out in various locations on base.

"We were geographically-separated from our skills lab and we had equipment stored in several different locations," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Cutchin, 446th ASTS senior Air Reserve Technician and Support Flight superintendent.

To crack the dilemma, 446th ASTS leadership competed for the facility, which previously belonged to the decommissioned 446th Airlift Control Flight, and was granted it in 2007. Since then, Cutchin has worked hand-in-hand with contractors in order to transform leadership's vision of the building into a reality.

"We wanted to have a training platform that's all in one," said Cutchin, of University Place. "It gives our (medical Airmen) an opportunity to actually perform their duties and stay proficient at what they do."

After countless meetings crammed with thorough planning, Hangar 12 emerged a success, Cutchin said. Because of its location on the flight line, Reservists now have the ability to work with various airframes and practice better hands-on mission training. The building also includes a skills lab with scenarios of different medical situations, and has enough storage space to keep their equipment under one roof.

"If someone says, ‘I think we need to walk through a whole scenario of loading a patient on an aircraft,' we can do that," said Lt. Col. Eric Johnson, 446th ASTS Flight Operations commander.

"This gives us autonomy, but also gives us that direct feeling of being able to accomplish our mission because we are on the flight line," said Maj. Kelli Bowen, 446th ASTS Support Flight commander. "We'll be able to do our job at a higher level."

Along with improving their own training, they'll be able to practice working with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here, the Air National Guard, and their civilian counterparts, Richardson said.

"Our mission is en-route care on the ground and in the air, and this facility lends itself to that training platform," he said.

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