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Medevac flight keeps warfighters in the fight

by Capt. Eric Elliott
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/13/2006 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- Moving the wounded, sick or injured to where they can receive the right level of care is the focus of a group of medical specialists deployed here supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

From coordinating airlift to providing medical care while in flight, Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group Aeromedical Evacuation Flight work all details involved in moving seriously ill patients.

“Our job is to evacuate wounded, sick and injured (troops) throughout the AOR to a place where they can receive the appropriate medical care,” said Lt. Col. David Sullivan, flight commander.

The flight is made up of about 30 people and includes physicians, nurses, medical service corps members, medical technicians, respiratory technicians, medical logisticians and other specialists. About half are active-duty Airmen, while others are either from the Air National Guard or the Air Force Reserve.

“This total-force effort results in a comprehensive, knowledgeable team and provides outstanding medical care during our transport missions,” Colonel Sullivan said. “This ensures the warfighter has access to the best medical care available.”

Four air evacuation teams consisting of a flight nurse and two aeromedical technicians are responsible for in-flight care. A critical care air transport team, which includes a critical care physician, a critical nurse and a respiratory technician, can also be added for the most serious cases.

“The AE teams provide life saving care while transporting patients to facilities where they can receive more definitive levels of medical care,” Colonel Sullivan said.

Since September, the 455thhas flown more than 80 missions and evacuated more than 300 patients to hospitals and health facilities elsewhere in Afghanistan and as far away as Germany, said Master Sgt. Darrell Ford, noncommissioned officer in charge of the flight’s crew management cell.

“There were no mishaps, no injuries or fatalities in flight,” Sergeant Ford said. “I’m very proud of our unit. We strive to be the best for our Soldiers.”

Patients have included Soldiers but also other servicemembers wounded in combat, Department of Defense contractors who have suffered strokes or heart attacks and even Afghan victims of a car bomb.

“Our unit has successfully aerovaced unprecedented numbers of Soldiers and local nationals,” said Capt. Robert Lunden, officer in charge of the flight’s crew management cell. “The camaraderie and professionalism carried forth day after day in this most difficult environment has been an impressive feat.”

“the presence of a fully operational AE system, along with providing access to medical care, also increases the morale of the warfighter by eliminating fears that medical care won’t be available,” Colonel Sullivan said.

Helping others is what the flight is all about.

“Every patient we carry out gives us a feeling of self-worth,” said Senior Airman Chantel Butler, medical administration journeyman. “It assures us that what we are doing here is really helping these Soldiers make it home to their loved ones and family.”

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