Back to Focus

Airmen train for casualty movement

Aeromedical evacuation Airmen safely transport wounded warriors

Photo by Spc. Loren Cook

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - When personnel are injured in Afghanistan, help is no farther away than a medic's tactical field care, a nine-line medevac request, and a helicopter flight to a forward operating base. Depending on the severity of an injury, a wounded Servicemember may be sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or stateside for additional treatment.

But how do these wounded warriors get from a field hospital to a fixed facility halfway around the world? The Army simply doesn't have the capability to move personnel across such vast distances. Instead, that responsibility lies with the Air Force, and the Air Force has aeromedical evacuation squadrons for just that purpose.

The 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, part of the Air Force Reserve's 446th Airlift Wing based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, recently held an initial training exercise for its aeromedical technicians - the first of many training events that will certify these Airmen as ready to assume their duty of safely transporting casualties out of the combat zone.

"This is part of basic qualification for our new Airmen, and a requalification for some who are just returning to flight status," said Lt. Col. Ken Winslow, director of operations for the 446th AES. "We have to fly every 60 to 90 days to maintain our qualification, and we also have a flight evaluation by a flight examiner every 12 to 16 months. There's training going on all the time."

The training allowed new Airmen to practice loading litters into the aircraft and tying everything down and to become familiar with emergency egress procedures. True to the "crawl, walk, run" training philosophy, this training, part of the "crawl" phase, was conducted on the ground.

"We were learning how to set things up in a C-17 and what to do if anything should go wrong," said Airman 1st Class Xochil Avila, an aeromedical technician with the 446th AES.

Trainers also incorporated one emergency scenario into the training. Avila played the part of a disoriented and traumatized patient, who posed a danger to the medical personnel and flight crew and had to be restrained.

As Avila flailed her limbs and screamed like a woman possessed, aeromedical technicians quickly regained control of the situation and put her in restraints.

"It would have been different if I was a real patient and was a 300-pound, beefy guy, but they took me down pretty fast," Avila said.

It was the first of several training exercises for certification, and future exercises will increase in intensity and stress. Winslow, however, expressed confidence in his new Airmen.

"It's great to see them coming in after their schools and seeing how smart they are, how much they remember, and the appropriate questions they ask," Winslow said. "They're doing very well."

Photo: Airman 1st Class Xochil Avila, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron aeromedical technician, struggles as she is restrained. Avila was taking part in an emergency scenario in which she portrayed a disoriented and traumatized patient posing a threat to the flight crew. The scenario was part of initial certification training for aeromedical technicians.

comments powered by Disqus