445 AES trains for wounded warrior care, transport

  • Published
  • By Maj. Elizabeth Caraway
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In addition to strategic transport and operational readiness, one of the primary missions of the 445th Airlift Wing is aeromedical evacuation--using military transport aircraft to carry wounded personnel. It's a mission carried out by more than 130 flight nurses, medical technicians, aeromedical evacuation operations officers, and logisticians in the 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

Capt. Leslie Houk, 445th AES Chief of Aircrew Training, explained that the unit is a blend of skill sets; all flight nurses are also civilian nurses, but medical technicians aren't necessarily in civilian medical fields. They complete basic emergency medical technician training through the Air Force.

Some Airmen, said Houk, discover they enjoy the career track so much they pursue nursing and first responder civilian jobs.

Airman Jordano Mape, 445 AES Health Services Management, is a current nursing student who has been with the unit for four months.

"The AES is a welcoming unit that strives for perfection and knows when it's time to work hard," he said.

The unit is presently gearing up to deploy members early next year for four months.

Many reservists look forward to the deployments as an opportunity to put all their training into practice, said Houk.

"Although it's also a good situation when we're deployed and there aren't any patients who require care," she added.

As a unit that is dependent on aircraft, Houk said the 445 AES is grateful to have such a good working relationship with the 89th Airlift Squadron.

"It's very much a team effort with the aircrew," said Houk. "Especially when deployed, but even during training missions, the loadmaster and pilots are communicating with us, seeing what we need, and doing everything they can to keep the flight smooth."

A unique area of AE training is altitude physiology, studying how the human body responds at different altitudes. Several AE team members get to put the training into practice on real-world missions returning troops to their hometowns.

As a former college basketball player and coach, Houk said she appreciates the teamwork in the AES.

"I love being here and I enjoy this squadron," said Houk. "It's not just the mission and the job; it's the people. These people make things happen. They are here for the right reason--to help others. It's so gratifying to know that you're ready, willing, and able to care for these patients. We are very passionate about what we do."

And the now-infamous pirate theme that the unit espouses? There are several theories as to its origins. One is that pirates board ships and take them over in the same way that AE boards a plane and "takes it over." Wherever it comes from, the reservists have run with it and stand ready to care for patients during air travel. And that's the way it is, matey...ARRRRR!