BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – “Prepare to lift! Lift!”
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Timothy Talbert shouted these commands to fellow medics who then lifted the Critical Care Air Transport Team patient from the ambulance to the C-130 Hercules because they understood that time was a factor in saving the patient’s life.
Talbert, a flight nurse, is part of the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight team on Bagram Air Field, whose mission is to care for and transport patients from one location to another to get them further medical care.
“Our primary mission is to transport patients anywhere in theater,” said Talbert, a native of Richmond, Va. “We move injured and wounded patients whether they are soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines or contractors. There isn’t a patient we can’t transport.”
The 455th EAEF picks up and treats service members and civilians with injuries varying from anything as minor as a cough to as severe as multiple amputation or gunshots wounds.
The unit covers all of Afghanistan. They also take patients from Craig Joint Theater Hospital to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany for a higher level medical care.
Talbert said they are the medics in-between when referring to the transportation of patients from one location to the next.
“We are a part of a system,” said Talbert. “We are the intermediate area between point A to point B. The transport is vital for the continuity of care and getting the patient to the next step, which might be the life saving step, the diagnosis that they need, or the treatment that they need.”
The mission planning starts upon receiving an aerovac request from the Combined Air Operations Center. The crews of the 455th EAEF have to be airborne within three hours to include multiple briefings, loading and checking approximately 1,800 pounds of equipment and converting the cargo area of a C-130, C-17 Globemaster III or a KC-135 Stratotanker into a flying ambulance or hospital.
“Whenever we are alerted, we have an hour to show,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Martha Maddox, native of Chapel Hill, N.C., and the Medical Crew Director with the 455th EAEF. “During the next two hours we have to brief, load our equipment and get everything checked so when we get to the aircraft, we are ready to go.”
Maddox said that the crew wants everything ready 30 minutes before takeoff, and wouldn’t be made possible if it wasn’t for a team effort.
“My crew is amazing,” said Maddox. “They know their procedures backwards and forwards and I would fly with anyone of them anywhere, anytime.”
There are four crews in the squadron and each crew is made up of five personnel. The crews are made up of two nurses and three air medical evacuation technicians.
One technician, U.S. Air Force Senior Airmen Melissa Deardorff, a native to Dumfries, Va., works as the charge on the crew, which details making sure equipment is up-to-date as well as doing pre-flight checks.
“As a flight medic, there is a job you do before you do your medic part,” said Deardorff. “I also have to delegate out jobs such as who does the oxygen, electrical, straps and who loads the patients." Even though the each person of the crew has a specific job, it’s important for each crew member to know each other’s job, Deardorff added. “We have to know each other’s jobs,” Deardorff continued. “We have to work like a well oiled machine.”
The crew has experienced a great sense of satisfaction transporting and caring for about 160 patients during the time in theater.
“It’s something that is hard to describe,” said Deardorff..“… but there is no greater feeling than to take care of one of your own and get them the help they need.”
|Date Posted:||01.14.2012 11:16|
|Location:||BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AF|
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