Saving lives: AES team hones critical care skills

  • Published
  • By Capt. Demetrius Smith
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Nine reservists from the 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron used the trip to and from the Oct. 1 South African Air Show on board a 445th Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III to conduct training.

AES crews consist of five people; two nurses and three medical technicians. The crew carries with them the necessary equipment to turn any cargo aircraft in the Air Force inventory into a flying ambulance almost instantly. The role of AES is to care for patients as well as stabilize casualties, transport and treat the wounded, provide emergency surgeries and clean wounds for critical care patients.

AES trained for an average of 53 hours by running various scenarios and training sessions in the cargo hold of the C-17 during each leg of the flight to and from Africa.

Lt. Col. Steve Theohares, the AES officer in charge during the mission, said the training sessions started once the crew stepped foot on the plane and lasted until the plane landed and everyone was off.

"By performing medical and aircraft emergencies in multiple scenarios, our Airmen will be more prepared for tough circumstances that may occur," Theohares said.

Passengers onboard the aircraft volunteered to help with the training by acting in the role as patients. Having live patients provides a valuable experience for AES members because it helps them react to realistic emergency situations rather than on a mannequin.

Maj. Kerry McCauley, 103rd Rescue Squadron, Gabreski Field, N.Y., found himself in restraints during one training session when he played an unruly patient was a perceived threat to others on the plane.

"They were professional and caring throughout," McCauley said.

Being ready at a moment's notice, AES trains to handle any situation that may arise during patient transport. Master Sgt. Mark Sanders, 445th Operations Support Squadron, became a real life training case. He was exposed to the heat without taking in enough water prior to the group leaving the Ascension Islands. Maj. Sheri Ellis, an AES certified medical clinical coordinator, noticed he looked flushed after being out on the beach all day and took immediate action to treat him for dehydration.

"I'm glad they were on board, they recognized I wasn't feeling well and they treated me immediately," Sanders said.

The training pays off for the men and women injured overseas who rely on skilled AES personnel to care for them while they are in transport. Senior Airman Brenna Fowle said the training was invaluable and keeps her in the mind set of various situations they may be faced with.

"This training was very in depth pertaining to patient care and emergency issues that we may face during an actual AES mission. We were able to talk out problems and ask questions as to what is the right approach to the various situations we were dealing with in the scenarios," Fowle said.