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Airmen fly Haitian earthquake patients to U.S. for medical care

by Senior Airman Andrew Davis
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

2/11/2010 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Ten members of the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here returned Jan. 30 from supporting earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

The Airmen, split into two teams, were based out of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and flew missions into the airport in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

The crews were commanded by Maj. Melissa Stickler and Capt. Michael Thomann.

"We were put on alert status when we got to MacDill AFB, which meant we would be ready to leave within an hour. We then proceeded to fly two missions into Haiti," Captain Thomann said. "The first mission we flew was to pick up and provide aid to eight American patients who were being evacuated from the country."

On the second mission, they picked up 17 Haitians who were being transported to the United States for medical care.

"Our job is to make the patients as comfortable as possible, providing pain control and making sure they are stable on the flight," Captain Thomann said. "The majority of the patients we had suffered fractures, crush injuries and burns."

Staff Sgt. Vivianne Jean-Pierre, a medical technician who is fluent in French Creole, was on hand to assist patients and their families.

"We were very fortunate to have her on our team. Through her translation skills, she diverted many situations that could have been potentially more dangerous," the captain said. "In one of the situations, a patient needed pain medication but the crew wasn't able to communicate effectively. Sergeant Jean-Pierre communicated this crucial piece of information so the crew could administer pain medication for this patient."

In another situation, Sergeant Jean-Pierre communicated the pain level of a 6-year-old patient with crushing injuries to the flight nurse, as well as informed the patient's mother of the situation and eased her worries."

The teams, which provided in-transit care on Air Force aircraft, consisted of medical crew directors, flight nurses and medical technicians.

The other members of the medical crew consisted of Capts. Christopher Dremann and Debra Sims; Tech. Sgts. Matthew Scott and Dale Clay; and Staff Sgts. Tiffany Taylor, Michael O'Connor and Eric Hammerstrom.

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