What is the Aeromedical Staging Squadron?

  • Published
  • By Col. Oba Vincent
  • 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron
So what is an aeromedical staging squadron and what do we do? I get asked that question all the time and I have to admit, before I joined the squadron some 13 years ago I had no idea myself.

There are two major components that make up the ASTS, patient staging and critical patient care. The patient staging function is the largest component in the unit and is comprised primarily of physicians, nurses, medical technicians, administrative personnel and medical support services (pharmacy, biomedical equipment, nutritional services, supply and others).

Our primary function is to man a contingency aeromedical staging facility. These facilities are located at major air hubs near medical facilities and support the movement of patients from the AOR (area of responsibility) home. We are large enough that we can man up to a 250 bed facility and house patients for up to 24 hours or longer if needed. We load and unload patients from aircraft and make sure that not only they receive the best medical care but also ensure that they have their belongings, medicine and food for their travels across the world.

Our second major function is to develop and train critical care air transport teams. These small teams are comprised of a critical care physician, nurse and respiratory therapist and will accompany a critical patient right from the intensive care unit (ICU) in the medical center to the plane and stay with them throughout transport.

These functions are key to the nation's ability to safely bring our wounded warriors home from the AOR. But we are only one component that makes up this vital air-bridge from war to home. We work very closely with our sister medical unit, the aeromedical evacuation squadron (provides the care in the air and travels with the aircraft) to complete the aeromedical evacuation system. Basically, we at the ASTS provide the linkage between the ground and the air to support patient transport.

The 445 ASTS is one of the largest ASTS's in the Air Force, and we constantly provide volunteer personnel to staff the CASFs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany. It's a fulfilling mission, so if you know any medical personnel looking to serve our nation, please send them our way.