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Medical readiness instructors receive new C-130 trainer

by John Ingle
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

4/8/2005 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN)  -- The next improvement to training medics at the 381st Training Squadron's medical readiness flight here has landed -- sort of.

The flight received a C-130 Hercules on April 2 that will enhance medical evacuation training for medics scheduled to deploy.

Giving medics an "as real to life as possible" look at what evacuations are like in the field will prepare them for deployment. That is why it was important to get a trainer that was close to the real thing, said Maj. Tammy St. Amand, an instructor at the medical readiness site and lead project officer for getting the C-130.

"We wanted it to look exactly the way the aircraft looks (in the field)," she said. "This will be their first interaction with a C-130, so it needs to be the way it's going to be in the field."

Although the medical readiness flight already has a C-130 trainer at their 53-acre training site, Major St. Amand said this trainer has the latest lighting updates that medics will see at aeromedical staging facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Medics filtering through the course will complete daytime and nighttime loading and unloading of patients as well as a "tail swap," or transferring patients from one aircraft to another.

A feature flight officials said they want to add to the aircraft is speakers to simulate the constant hum of a noisy flightline. A large fan is also in the cargo bay of the C-130 to either cool the inside of the aircraft down or simulate the jet wash that comes from the engines of an actual plane.

The aircraft was on the 82nd Training Wing training ramp until it was no longer suitable for maintenance training and had been scheduled for destruction, said Mitch Weatherly, 982nd Maintenance Squadron trainer development flight chief.

"It was kind of like a hand me down," he said. "Instead of going out and getting what we needed, we used what we had here."

Requesting the trainer from a civilian contractor would have been a multimillion dollar project, Mr. Weatherly said. Instead, the project cost a little more than $7,000.

Crews at the 982nd MXS worked on the lighting system, hydraulics and power system to meet the needs of the medical readiness training.

Chuck Witt, the engineering technician for the project, said he completed the design in three weeks. After the preliminary designs were reviewed, a final design was presented, and crews began work on the project.

Mr. Weatherly and Mr. Witt said it was important to ensure the realistic nature of the aircraft was kept to make the training as realistic as possible for the medics.

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