Aerospace medicine keeps wing fit to fight

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Staff Sgt. Omar Reyes, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technician, performs a hearing test on a patient at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center March 7, 2015. The hearing test is part of the annual physical health assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Devin Long)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Staff Sgt. Omar Reyes, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron public health technician, performs a hearing test on a patient at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Center March 7, 2015. The hearing test is part of the annual physical health assessment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Devin Long)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Staff Sgt. Logan McKinney, a medical laboratory technician with the 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, draws blood from Lt. Col. Richard Klarich, 89th Airlift Squadron pilot. Other parts of the assessment involve optometry, lab testing, immunizations and general counseling. ((U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Devin Long)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio - Staff Sgt. Logan McKinney, a medical laboratory technician with the 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, draws blood from Lt. Col. Richard Klarich, 89th Airlift Squadron pilot. Other parts of the assessment involve optometry, lab testing, immunizations and general counseling. ((U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Devin Long)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- "Flight medicine" refers to a whole lot more than aircrew health. For members of the 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, it means ensuring the approximately 1,900 reservists in the 445th Airlift Wing maintain medical and dental readiness so they can support Air Force missions worldwide.

"We handle the health needs of the whole unit. It takes a lot of people to get a plane in the air, and we care for all of them," said Col. Brad Goldman, 445th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Chief of Flight Medicine and acting squadron commander. "We ensure the wing force is medically fit and ready to go out the door. We make sure all our Airmen stay safe and mission-ready."

Due to budget constraints, the unit is no longer as heavily involved in humanitarian missions as it was several years ago. Instead, the doctors, nurses, and technicians are focused on readiness.  The AMDS handles immunizations as well as waivers and profiles, which means they are closely connected to fitness.

For Airmen who are concerned about injuries or illness prior to a fitness test--for example, a sprained ankle--Goldman advises them to come in and pick up a reschedule form and work with their unit commander to approve a reschedule. This does not apply to chronic conditions or conditions that will not resolve within 60 days.

AMDS is also responsible for briefing aircrew and deploying Airmen on theater-specific medications and the unit maintains medical and dental records for all members of the 445th Airlift Wing.

"Ensuring medical records are up-to-date for mobility is a large part of what we do," said Goldman.

The unit is working hard to streamline records processing. Dental forms, for example, should now be emailed to an organizational mailbox, 445amds.sgd@us.af.mil, rather than transferred via hard copy.

Medical issues can lead to a lot of member stress, said Goldman, especially with the impact on careers. It is a balancing act to meet both the needs of the patient and the Air Force, he said. The approximately 140 Airmen in AMDS "take the time to make sure the job is done right and are always striving to improve. We have a lot of awesome people."

"Everyone works well together," agreed Senior Airman Jared McCabe, 445th AMDS dental assistant. "Even though we have staffing challenges, we pull together to get the job done."

As for what wing Airmen can do to help AMDS and themselves, Goldman urges members to keep their records updated.

"The number one thing we want the wing to know is if you experience a change in your medical condition--if you see your doctor about an issue or go to an emergency room--you need to submit paperwork from that visit to AMDS. Hospitalizations, surgeries, and new prescription medications all need to be documented," said Goldman. "Help us to help you stay ahead of the curve."