Reservists conduct training for AE operations

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- More than 20 medics assigned to the 908th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, conducted training with MacDill’s 45th AES to perform medical staging and in-air medical care at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Aug. 21, 2020.

The training brought together two Air Force Reserve aeromedical evacuation units to maintain mission readiness, and promote interoperability between units who are geographically separated, but work tirelessly to accomplish the same objective – bring service members home safe.

“The training between two different AES’s is always an exciting event!” exclaimed Maj. Jessica Otto, a 908th AES flight nurse. “This weekend’s training allowed the two squadrons to come together and accomplish the necessary training.”

The Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation System is a unique and significant part of the nation's mobility resources. Its mission is to provide fixed-wing movement of patients requiring supervision by aeromedical evacuation personnel to locations offering appropriate levels of medical care. During contingencies, the Air Force AE system can operate as far forward as fixed-wing aircraft are able to conduct air/land operations.

The squadrons consists of flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians who specialize in altitude physiology and aircraft systems in order to deliver safe patient care in the back of an aircraft at 30,000 feet.

Aeromedical evacuation technicians, flight nurses, surgeons, and a flight examiner tagged along on the flight to perform mandatory training tasks and certification.

Tasks, such as litter carries onto the aircraft, were quick accomplishments to start the training exercise, but the action continued once the aircraft’s tires left the ground.

“As a flight nurse, we often times do not have a flight surgeon with us, so we must stay vigilant during our patient care to be able to recognize when there is a change in a patient’s status,” said Otto. “In order to instill the mentality of providing life-saving care to our younger nurses and medical technicians, I think it’s important to run realistic scenarios and provide first-hand operational experience.”

The team not only needs to be comfortable providing life-saving care inside an airborne aircraft, they also must be familiar with the airframe itself. Considerations such as vibrations in certain areas of the aircraft, dictate where patients are secured based on their injuries. Additionally, temperature differences in various areas of the cargo area affect the decisions of the medics. In dire situations, no time can be spent debating placement of patients, so the medics must rely on their training to make split-second decisions.

“In my humble opinion, being a flight nurse or medic is the best job in the Air Force,” added Otto. “I’m fresh from a deployment myself, and seeing firsthand the impact we have on our patients has me so excited for our younger Airmen who will deploy in the future.

“I’ve been a nurse for 14 years, and a nurse practitioner for seven, and patient care has always been a priority for me as we must protect those who are vulnerable in their time of need.”

At the end of the training, Airmen are better prepared to face the adversities of being a nurse in a deployed environment and provide professional care for military members in need on the battlefield.