Transport Airframes Contribute to Medical Evacuation Mission
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 17, 2008 – Though the notion of
transporting patients to medical treatment by air usually evokes images
of helicopters, transport aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules, KC-135
Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III allow medical personnel to care
for larger numbers of patients over longer distances, at higher
altitudes, with a greater ability to care for the seriously injured. |
The 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight here cares for
and transports patients from all over Afghanistan to Bagram Airfield
and run missions taking patients out of the combat theater to Ramstein
Air Base in Germany.
Force Staff Sgt. Victor Lopez checks medical equipment on a C-130
Hercules transport July 8, 2008, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The
function check is one step in the conversion of the C-130 for an
aeromedical evacuation mission. The team converting the C-130 is with
455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight, deployed from 375th
Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. U.S. Air
Force photo by Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
crews at the 455th EAEF are mandated to be airborne within three hours
of receiving request for aeromedical evacuation, Air Force Tech. Sgt.
Alexandria Young, a duty controller for the unit, said. This involves
checking and loading 800 pounds of emergency equipment and converting
the cargo hold of a C-130 or C-17 into a flying hospital.
Despite the daunting time frame, Young said, she has seen this complex task performed in as little as 45 minutes.
is always a team effort, working with the air terminal operations
center, fuels shop, pilots and loadmasters," Air Force Senior Master
Sgt. Adam Marks, a 455th EAEF member, said.
Air Force Lt. Col.
Michael Gainer, 455th EAEF commander, said one of the big strengths of
the aeromedical evacuation mission is to be able to cater to patients
needing critical-care support.
"Depending on patient acuity,”
he said, “the standard crew of nurses and EMT trained aeromedical
technicians can be augmented with a critical-care air-transport team
consisting of a critical-care doctor, a critical-care nurse and a
respiratory therapist. This allows patients to be moved, when required,
literally direct from the operating room to the aircraft."
the combination of Army helicopters flying wounded servicemembers from
the battlefield to medical care and the Air Force’s aeromedical
evacuation system picking up the process from there, he said, injured
and wounded servicemembers have rapid access to the level of care they
(Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Morse serves with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office.)
|Military Connection's Comments:
The C-130 aircraft is used to transport personnel or cargo. The C-130s are also the primary aeromedical evacuation aircraft in a conflict. The aircraft is also used in fire fighting and humanitarian relief missions. Converting the C-130 into an aeromedical aircraft is relatively easy. The Aeromedical Pallet System (AAPS) is a portable aircraft conversion kit that will reconfigure most modern cargo airframes into an airborne ambulance, quickly and cost-effectively. Fast, safe aeromedical evacuation is a major priority—for humanitarian, commercial, and military operations. The system can be rolled on and off aircraft and requires only 20 minutes to set up and secure. Each pallet can accommodate six seated patients, six patients on litters, or three in each configuration. Multiple pallets can be installed in the same aircraft. The 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation is in charge of transporting and taking care of patients.