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Wing medics train with Thai counterparts

by Tech. Sgt. Rey Ramon
18th Wing Public Affairs

6/9/2008 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Medics assigned to the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron returned here May 31 after participating in an aeromedical evacuation exercise in Bangkok, Thailand with the Royal Thai Air Force as part of a humanitarian-assistance mission.

The 18th AES trained with the RTAF during the 13th Air Force-sponsored Pacific Angel Operation to enable future integration for real-world humanitarian missions.

"This was designed to bring both U.S. Air Force and Thai aeromedical evacuation systems together and learn from our similarities and differences," said Capt. Sam Millar, 18th AES flight nurse. "We are also combining our experiences and linking the two into a possible joint partnership in the future."

The captain said past events, such as the tsunami that struck Thailand in 2004 and the recent cyclone in Burma, make this type of collaboration important.

The RTAF medics displayed the loading and offloading of their simulated patients on a C-130 Hercules. They also showed the Americans their equipment and how they integrated it within the aircraft. The Americans did so as well.

"During the flight, we took 55 RTAF medics and flight students and showed them the equipment we use such as frequency converters and the patient therapeutic liquid oxygen system," said Captain Millar. "We also showed them how we use our equipment and configure our aircraft."

Both teams were able to take a step back and see the same process done differently as well as share ideas to enhance each other's procedures.

"What we learned from the RTAF is their methods of taking care of patients on the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Francis DeGuzman, 18th AES aeromedical evacuation technician. "They use privacy curtains similar to a hospital setting and they took their time."

Captain Millar said there is a greater sense of urgency on the U.S. side and it may be related to the fast-paced tempo of the aeromedical evacuation mission at Kadena Air Base.

The 18th AES medics introduced new items to their Thai counterparts to use for their missions, such as a checklist for aircraft operational procedures outlining initial medical treatment and aircraft emergencies.

The RTAF medics were also able to use new equipment to make their job less cumbersome in the future.

"There were many similarities on how we do business," said Captain Millar. "But some of the major differences were the type of equipment they used. When they decide to purchase the equipment, it will enhance their mission by creating more space and consolidation within the aircraft."

This was the first time both teams came together to learn from each other and increase bilateral cooperation.

"The idea is to come to some common process between the two," said Captain Millar. "We would be able to integrate so it becomes one fluid operation to join and do an aeromedical evacuation mission together if needed."

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