WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Medical teams from the 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 88th Medical Group and cadre from the 711th Human Performance Wing’s U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine conducted aeromedical evacuation readiness training May 8, 2019.
The Total Force medical training came about as a result of an on-going relationship between the 445th AES and U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, and the need for active-duty Critical Care Air Transport Team members to get hands on training in the air with an AES crew before being deployed.
Aeromedical evacuation teams consist of two flight nurses and three medical technicians.
The AE crew keeps patients stable while in flight after an evacuation. When patients require extra attention, a CCATT of a critical care physician, critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist augment the AE crew to provide intensive care unit type attention.
The active-duty members who make up CCATT work in hospitals and medical centers until they are called to deploy and come together as a CCATT. Since the AE crew and CCATT only work together when they deploy, it is essential that they train together to enhance the care of injured personnel, said Lt. Col. Todd Mulhorn, 445th AES director of operations.
“We don’t want our crews to be that the first time they work with a CCATT to be in a combat environment. We want them to already have a good synergy,” said Mulhorn.
The CCATT could come from any base and typically don’t train with AE units until they deploy together.
“You don’t want that to be the first time they’ve been on a mission,” said Mulhorn. “And this is their opportunity to understand what we do, this is also our opportunity to figure out what’s important to CCATT.”
The coordination for these particular flights started December 2017 with a proof of concept flight. At least once a month the reserve AE crew is joined by the active duty CCATT to train in the air for a total force aeromedical evacuation exposition. Lt. Col. Derek Sorensen, medical director for the En Route Care Training Department at the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine under the 711th Human Performance Wing and the coordinator for these joint aeromedical evacuation readiness flights has already seen a visible difference.
“They are getting consistent at least once a month training, and I’ve seen their crews show up at other exercises and they’re well above and higher functioning when they interface with CCATT crews because they know, because they get this exposure and the fidelity of actually working with them,” said Sorensen.
Seeing the training pay off in an exercise isn’t the goal of this said Mulhorn, its saving lives. “The benefit is downrange, the training helps them move through the theater much more efficiently, and ultimately the person that most gains from it is the injured warfighter that we’re moving.”
Sorensen echoed Mulhorn’s sentiment, expressing the major impact this training will have.
“I think that this, brings our heroes home,” said Sorenson. “It enables the warfighter because we are ready. This is readiness. These guys are doing and practicing the mission that they’re supposed to do when they go into the deployed environment and they get to go over it again and again and work out all the kinks, and so I would believe when they show up down range they are a game changer and a force multiplier because they already have this breadth of experience with them.”
Both Mulhorn and Sorensen say that to the best of their knowledge, the active duty CCATT deploying out of Wright-Patterson AFB are the only teams getting to train in flight especially in a total force environment.
Forging a training program that has the potential to become a requirement for all AE and CCATT crews prior to deployment improves the U.S. aeromedical evacuation capability even further and increases the chances of survival for the injured warfighters, said Sorensen.