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Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg trains with new medevac helicopter

Feb 18, 2011

By Sgt. Derek L. Kuhn/40th PAD

FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- In every war there will be deaths and injuries.

Regardless of that unavoidable truth, the Army has continued to field new techniques and technologies throughout the years. From amputating limbs during the Civil War to incorporating aerial medical evacuations, or medevacs, in the Korean War, the Army has employed advances in technology to increase the odds of survivability from wounds Soldiers suffer.

These advances go hand-in-hand with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade's ongoing transition to the new version of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter - the UH-60M.

The medevac version of the aircraft, the HH-60M, incorporates the newer navigation system of the UH-60M and includes upgraded medical care equipment for the patients.

Prior to the UH-60M Black Hawk, the 82nd CAB was using the UH-60A Black Hawk for its medevac helicopters.

"The HH-60 Mike is significantly different from our previous aircraft the (UH-60) Alpha," said Spc. Cormac Chandler, a medevac crew chief with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. "The aircraft was built for en route medical care."

According to Chandler, the new Black Hawks received many upgrades like a real-time navigational display, provisions for the litters, an onboard oxygen generator and an integrated external hoist.

A Black Hawk pilot for Co. C, 3-82, Chief Warrant Officer Isaias Sierra is also familiarizing himself with the new aircraft, especially the navigation system for his unit's upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"It (the system) helps us navigate faster and more efficiently," Sierra said. "We don't have to look at a map on our knees anymore. It really allows us to concentrate on flying."

Moreover, one of the UH-60M's navigation system's advantages is a real-time updating display, Sierra said.

"The aircraft updates your position on the display map in real time," the Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, native said. "You can zoom in and out to see terrain features that would provide a better place to land in an emergency. The navigation is much easier and takes out all the guess work."

Once the pilots have navigated the Black Hawk to the proper place, the HH-60M's other upgrades like 'the external hoist can come into play especially for deployments to areas with rough terrains like Afghanistan," said Chandler, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., native.

"The external hoist is going to help us out because you can't land everywhere in eastern Afghanistan," he said. "And since the hoist is external, we have more space to administer care to the evacuee."

Needless to say, some casualties require oxygen, and this forced medevac crews to carry and maintain cumbersome oxygen bottles on the older aircraft, Chandler said.

"With the Mikes, we don't have to worry about that because they generate the oxygen. It saves space and allows to better care for the injured," Chandler said.

Summing up the purpose of the HH-60M Black Hawk, Chandler said, the new Black Hawk is about getting the guys on the ground out of harm's way and to the next higher level of care faster.

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