Three birds, one life-saving mission

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron treat a seizure patient during an exercise onboard a KC-135R Stratotanker enroute from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron treat a seizure patient during an exercise onboard a KC-135R Stratotanker enroute from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Aug. 26, 2016. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A multi-unit team of aeromedical evacuation squadron members make their way to a C-130H3 Hercules on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, to conduct in-flight training. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A multi-unit team of aeromedical evacuation squadron members make their way to a C-130H3 Hercules on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, to conduct in-flight training. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A patient receives treatment during an aeromedical evacuation training flight onboard a C-17 Globemaster III Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016.  More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A patient receives treatment during an aeromedical evacuation training flight onboard a C-17 Globemaster III Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A C-130H3 Hercules, KC-135R Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III rest on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line during round robin aeromedical evacuation training missions Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons onboard the three aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A C-130H3 Hercules, KC-135R Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III rest on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line during round robin aeromedical evacuation training missions Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons onboard the three aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A C-130H3 Hercules, KC-135R Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III rest on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line during round robin aeromedical evacuation training missions Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons onboard the three aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A C-130H3 Hercules, KC-135R Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III rest on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line during round robin aeromedical evacuation training missions Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons onboard the three aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron secure litters and oxygen lines prior to takeoff of a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron secure litters and oxygen lines prior to takeoff of a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A joint-unit aeromedical evacuation team unloads a litter from a C-17 Globemaster III Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016, on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line.  More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

A joint-unit aeromedical evacuation team unloads a litter from a C-17 Globemaster III Saturday, Aug. 28, 2016, on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line. More than a dozen 459th AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Colonel Thomas Pemberton, 459th Operations Group commander and pilot, looks out the window of a KC-135R Stratotanker during pre-flight checks on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Colonel Thomas Pemberton, 459th Operations Group commander and pilot, looks out the window of a KC-135R Stratotanker during pre-flight checks on the Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, flight line, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016. More than a dozen 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Maintenance Group guide airstairs toward a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon the return of 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron members from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Maintenance Group guide airstairs toward a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon the return of 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron members from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron disembark from a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)
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Members of 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron disembark from a KC-135R Stratotanker on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron load litters onto transport vehicles on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)
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Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron load litters onto transport vehicles on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 459th Operation Group pose for a group photo on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)
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Members of the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 459th Operation Group pose for a group photo on the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, flight line Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, upon return from joint-unit, multi-aircraft training at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. More than a dozen AES flight nurses, technicians and administrators flew to Peterson to conduct joint unit training with other AE squadrons on board the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III and C-130H3 Hercules. Serving as a medical transport unit, the 459th AES trained for various medical conditions and situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Kat Justen)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

As the deep, steady hum of fixed-wing engines gently vibrated the hull of the massive medical transport vessel, Airmen in olive green flight suits hurried about the cabin pouring over checklists, securing patients and ensuring proper operation of equipment.

 

More than a dozen flight nurses, technicians and administrators with the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron traveled to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, from Friday, Aug. 26 to Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, to conduct joint unit and multi-aircraft medical transport training onboard the KC-135R Stratotanker, C-17 Globemaster III, and C-130H3 Hercules.

 

“Our mission this weekend is to get all three aircraft in one location and conduct round robin exercise training on different platforms AE Airmen are not used to and not assigned to back at their units,” said Senior Master Sgt. Gary Taiclet, 34th AES operations and AE operations team superintendent. “We have the 459th AES out of Joint Base Andrews, [Maryland]; the 452nd AES out of March Air Reserve Base, [California]; 94th AES out of Dobbins Air Reserve Base, [Georgia], and us.”

This unique training opportunity afforded AE members the opportunity to not only to train on various aircraft in one place, but to learn from other Airmen with varying levels of experience.

 

“Exercises like these are a great way to share experience, knowledge and exchange ideas,” said Taiclet. “We ‘rainbowed’ the crews so they are from every location rather than flying with just their own people. Someone may have 500 hours on a KC-135 and another only 20. So someone with the 500 hours can mentor the person with 20.”

 

The Peterson team organized the event to simulate the process, procedures and situations AE members face when deployed.

 

“This is a mock setup, so if they were deployed this is how it would really be: putting them into crew rest 12 hours earlier, alerting them and telling them to be ready in one hour, and we’d have all their paperwork ready go. So if you were deployed this is actually what it would be like,” said Captain Damon Petersen, medical readiness officer and officer in charge of first shift AEOT.

The AEOT plays a major role in preparing AE members for the exercise ahead and serves as the logistical backbone to all deployed aeromedical transport missions.

 

“We are the ones that coordinate everything, make sure crews are called and get out to the planes on time. We are like the central cell for crew coordination,” said Petersen. “In an actual deployed setting, the AEOT is responsible for the launch and recovery of crews, vehicles, hotels, lodging, food, getting the equipment out to the aircraft, getting it back from the aircraft - basically taking care of the crews.”

Over the course of the exercise, AE crews conducted medical and aircraft drills ranging from mechanical issues with the aircraft to emergency medical situations.

 

“The crews run patient scenarios from cardiac issues, seizures, psychological emergencies to aircraft emergencies such as rapid decompression, fires, and door warning lights,” said Taiclet. “They also do engine running onloads with the C-17 and C-130 where engines are still running for loading and unloading.”

Just as important as trained, experienced crews, is the proper management of the tools and equipment so critically necessary to saving lives. Before and after each mission AE members meticulously check and rechecked their inventories and function of life support equipment.

 

“A kit consists of an emergency equipment litter, litter for three patients and our green bags,” said Tech. Sgt. Carl Stewart II, 459th AES technician. “Anything that we would need during the course of an actual AE mission we would get out of our bags for patient comfort, medical supplies, as well as if we need to start IVs. We bring enough equipment to basically transform this aircraft into a mobile hospital.”

 

The emergency equipment litter provides monitoring capabilities, intravenous flow of fluid, manual resuscitators, and many other life sustaining tools.

 

“Our emergency equipment litter consists of the defibrillator; Propaq to monitor vital signs, do an electrocardiogram as well as monitor temperature; channel lock, if we are doing fluid therapy in metered doses; [intravenous pump] and suction. We also carry our bag valve mask to help resuscitate and provide oxygen to our patients,” said Stewart.

Overall, the training and attention to detail help prepare AE Airmen to provide the best possible patient support when flying real-world medical transport missions. For Major Jennifer Leach,34th AES flight and AEOT commander, the event was a success, providing incentive for future joint-unit, joint-aircraft exercises.

“Our plan is before our next deployment rotation to do this again with our deployers. We are going to take what we learned from this and make it better,” said Leach. “It’s always good to bring different squadrons together, and let them work together, bring expertise from the different squadrons onto the same crews and use that experience to enhance the training. Overall, people have positive things to say. It went really well.”