‘Always On Call’ Active-Duty, Reserve medevac teams train together
Air Force Capt. Erik Spiess, 349th Aeromedical Evacuations Squadron flight nurse (left), and Air Force Master Sgt. Rard Perkins, 911th Operations Group aircrew trainer, hand off a patient to members of the 60th Inpatient Squadron to secure on an ambulance bus for delivery to David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, California. Members of the 60th IPTS participated in the Air Force Reserve exercise Patriot Delta, providing enroute patient care and staging the medical manikins. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps)
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The medical manikins were gently placed on litters and wrapped in blankets and bandages. Airmen shifted restlessly, inspecting bandages and triple-checking charts to ensure they were correct. The ambulance bus was backed up with its door open, as the service members waited for a phone call.
Finally, the phone rang and the Airmen from the 60th Inpatient Squadron kicked into gear. The “patients” were efficiently loaded onto the bus and taken to the Travis flightline, where a C-130 Hercules aircraft from Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, sat with running engines, ready to take the “injured” to their simulated final destination.
Patriot Delta Exercise
This was one of more than 700 events played out during Patriot Delta, an Air Force Reserve Command exercise designed for aeromedical evacuation squadrons. The key participants were from the 911th Airlift Wing at Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, the 908th AW at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; the 932nd Airlift Wing at Scott AFB, Illinois; and the 349th Air Mobility Wing here.
“Since all of our units are scheduled for deployment around the same time, Patriot Delta provided the opportunity for us to meet people we would work with and train on airframes we don’t have at our home stations,” said Air Force Maj. Kelly Rose, 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron operations flight commander and planner for Patriot Delta.
Though most of those participating in Patriot Delta were reservists, there was a team of 10 active-duty Airmen from the 60th Inpatient Squadron that performed en route patient care in the exercise.
En route patient care consists of receiving a patient from a flight, taking them to a hospital via ambulance bus, coordinating a departure flight to the final destination, ensuring accuracy of the patient’s paperwork, and keeping the patient as healthy as possible, until they deliver the patient on the departing flight.
The Airmen also staged all of the “patients” in Patriot Delta with a variety of injuries for the medical personnel to properly care for.
“We wanted to utilize all of our resources for this exercise,” Rose said. “Not all bases have [en route patient staging facilities], and they are at deployed locations. Since we have them here at Travis, and have a great relationship with them, we reached out to them.”
Reserve, Active Duty Partnership
The partnership for this exercise was mutually beneficial for both reservists and active duty participants, said Air Force Maj. David Whitehorn, 60th IPTS commander.
“We have a lot of new folks in our squadron,” Whitehorn said. “Patriot Delta provided an excellent training opportunity for them.”
The 60th IPTS is often very busy with real-world en route patient care, so new Airmen often don’t have time to receive training where they can make mistakes, learn and ask questions, he added.
“Their ERPSF is always on call, so they don’t always have training time,” Rose said.
The partnership between the reservists and active duty members was important to this exercise.
“This is real world,” Whitehorn said. “When deployed, we do this together. There is no difference between active duty and reserves.”
Increased collaboration was a key component to this exercise, Rose said.
Once the patients were delivered onto the C-130, the Airmen jumped back onto the ambulance bus, skirting around the flightline to a KC-135 Stratotanker where they received more patients and delivered them to the hospital.
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