Publius Forum

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Aeromedical Teams Provide Care, Comfort

News from CentCom:

Aeromedical Teams Provide Care, Comfort.

21 Jun 07
By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.

SOUTHWEST ASIA — The 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has not only made it possible for a speedier recovery by picking up injured and sick servicemembers, but is providing the care and comfort needed to put their patients at ease.

Each time a crew from the 379th flies on a mission to care for patients, they are humbled by those injured in theater.

"It's a privilege to honor and care for those men and women fighting this war and having the opportunity to tell them thank you," said Capt. Reah Downs, a 379th flight nurse deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and a native of Bethany, Conn.

"This is the best job the Air Force has to offer," she added. As a flight nurse, Downs is responsible for supervising the medical technicians and making sure that the patients receive the care they need.

A team consisting of two flight nurses and three medical technicians, from the 379th, was on alert at their dormitories' while undergoing crew rest needed for an intra-theater mission in Iraq.

Upon alert, the crew secured their weapons, attended an intelligence briefing and then loaded more than 760 pounds of equipment; to include, cardiac monitors, defibrillators, intubation devices, and litters. Focused, they quickly and efficiently unloaded the equipment and supplies using patient litters, tested the equipment and meticulously organized the remaining supplies.

A Critical Care Air Transport Team accompanied the crew to help transport the more critical patients. The CCAT team is comprised of a doctor, critical care nurse and a respiratory technician all specialized in providing care to those patients with more severe injuries. Fortunately, during this mission only one battlefield patient needed CCATT level of care.

The 379th EAES flies on intra-theater missions three days a week and lands at various Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facilities within the area of operation. The CASFs are facilities located on the tarmac that hold the injured patients waiting to be evacuated. These missions are flown throughout the area to pick up those who can receive care within the area of operations versus being transported back to the states.

The crew began their mission at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and flew to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, where they transferred servicemembers from flightline ambulance onto the aircraft.

"My job is to make sure we bring our troops back home safely," said Senior Airman Mickisha Gordon, 379th EAES medical technician who is deployed from Pope Air Force Base. Gordon, a native of West Palm Beach, Fla., is responsible for assisting the flight nurses with patient care.

After picking the patients up at Al Asad, they went to Balad Air Base, Iraq, and dropped the patients off to receive care at their medical facility, while more patients were picked up to be sent to another base in Southwest Asia for further care.

"We provide the best quality medical care to wounded servicemembers while being transported from the AOR to a facility that provides more definitive treatment," said Staff Sgt. Christine Hill, 379th EAES medical technician deployed from Kadena Air Base, Japan and a native of Raliegh, N.C. Patients are typically delivered to Balad or Southwest Asia for care.

The wounded warriors expressed their appreciation for the 379th EAES coming to pick them up and providing the care they need.

"Air Force medics have taken such great care of me," said Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Pickering, 2nd Battalion, 7th infantry Regiment, who was being medically evacuated from Al Asad to a base in Southwest Asia. "They've made me feel comfortable throughout the process of my recovery."

The sergeant who is deployed from Fort Stewart, Ga., and a native of Miami Fla., said he is grateful for the Air Force aeromedical crew for assisting in his recovery so he can go back to Iraq with his fellow soldiers.

"I can't wait to get back with my guys," he said. "I appreciate all of the time, attention and care these airmen have given me," said Pickering.

The squadron is on a four-month cycle here and is considered "enablers", which means it deploys for four months, goes back to home station for four months and then returns to the area of operations for four months on a rotational basis. Since May, the 379th has moved more than 65 litter, 210 ambulatory, for a total of 266 patients and flown on more than 30 missions - providing care and returning warriors to the fight.

The Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard comprise about 87 percent of all aeromedical assets worldwide. They deploy for four months and then return home to civilian jobs. The active-duty aeromedical squadrons consists of 13 percent of the total number deployed and consists of the following units: 43rd AES at Pope Air Force Base; 86th AES at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; 18th AES at Kadena Air Base; and 375th AES, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Photo - Capt. Rhea Downs cares for a wounded servicemember June 13 at Balad Air Base, Iraq. Downs is deployed from Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and is assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke.

Source: CENTCOM.
Cross-posted from DoD Daily News-2.

This is a mixture of emotions article, from heart-wretching to proud to grateful. It is heart-wretching for me to hear about even one of our men in pain, let alone murdered. But this is war, and I have to deal with it.

It makes me so proud when I hear stories about our injured men who, to them, the only problem is when can they have their 'gear' back and join their team! Gratitude comes from the knowledge that they are doing this for you and me. Maybe not directly, maybe we'll never meet face to face, maybe...but wow. They know this as well. I am truly humbled.

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