JULY 13, 2016, SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) – Airmen assigned to 31 aeromedical evacuation squadrons across the Air Force must complete vigorous training to provide lifesaving in-transit care on fixed-wing aircraft.
The 375th Air Mobility Wing’s newest formal training unit, Detachment 4, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the only hub for this distinctive training.
The unit was realigned from Headquarters Air Mobility Command to the 375th Operations Group in February. Det. 4 incorporates AE support, deployment, humanitarian and global response training scenarios for their students.
As the only AE formal training unit, Det. 4 standardizes qualification training for all Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, and active-duty flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians. In addition to providing initial flight nurse/aeromedical evacuation technician qualification training, Det. 4 also provides initial flight instructor qualifications.
“Most medical jobs are very similar; the big difference between us and medics at a hospital is that most of our care happens at 40,000 feet in the air using specialized equipment,” said Capt. Joshua Williams, a Det. 4 flight examiner. “We are capable of providing any level of care from medical-surgical level to step down (intensive care unit) care in the air.”
Flight nurses are in charge of the medical aspect and the overall operational mission. They develop nursing care plans and direct the best course of action in the continuation of care. The nurses also coordinate with the pilot to safely integrate medical care to aircraft capabilities ensuring all patient needs are met.
AE technicians are responsible for everything that happens on the aircraft as well as providing outstanding patient care. They configure the plane, ensure safe ground operations, provide medical equipment/aircraft integration and coordinate with the flight nurses to provide patient placement.
In order for these individuals to enter the aeromedical career field, they must submit a package and complete both the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine course and the initial qualification course at the formal training unit. At the Air Force school, the students are given aerospace medicine and physiology knowledge required for AE. Once this didactic phase is complete, the students transition to the formal training unit, where they learn to combine clinical skills and knowledge with aircrew procedures and aircraft operational capabilities.
The formal training unit training starts with five academic training days, covering essential Air Force instructions.
Students then receive three days of hands-on training on C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.
Then over the next 10 days the students incorporate simulation missions where they piece together the knowledge they have learned in 10 static training missions.
Once training is complete, students move onto the evaluation phase where they are tested on the training they have received, which includes an evaluation on an operational flight.
“We take the building blocks and add to those with aircraft and aircrew knowledge. From there, they will go to their home units, where they will actually get their mission qualification training,” Williams said.
Mission qualification training encompasses local procedures, as well as everything the students will need to be successful in a deployed environment.
“We train everyone the exact same way, so when we are downrange and deploy with different units, we know they all have the same training,” said Tech. Sgt. Danny Au, an AE technician evaluator. “We know what they know, and they know what we know.”