379th AEOT: keeping care in the air
By Staff Sgt. Greg Erwin, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 23, 2021
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- When people think of the Aeromedical Evacuation mission, many may imagine flying into a combat zone to pick up patients who need to be transported to a hospital for care. What they may not imagine is the level of ground support needed to ensure that the evacuation teams can get in the air and to the patients. This logistical role resides with the Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Team, or the AEOT.
The team here at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, consists of a small team assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, who are tasked with the support role of ensuring crew members acquire the correct items for each evacuation flight and that the team in the air is equipped to perform the mission. The AEOT also ensures items such as food services and lodging are taken care of for transient members of the AE team.
“The AEOT is in charge of storing and controlling medications and all gear needed for the flyers to complete their missions,” said Maj. Darrin McDermott, 379th EAES AEOT officer in charge. “While the AEOT members typically don’t have a flying mission during their rotation, they do have the training and experience, like the flyers, to ensure proper support.”
When being tasked for a deployment, AE members can get put in the role of either a flying crew member or a member of the AEOT. The members of the AEOT maintain 24 hour operations, 7 days a week with at least two members at the desk at all times.
“We are the behind-the-scenes people that no one knows about, but we play a big part, and to me that’s very gratifying,” said Tech. Sgt. Stacey Mitchell, 379th EAES squadron aviation resource manager.
The 24/7 operations tempo can be challenging for the team, especially in a deployed location.
“Short notice of incoming or outgoing missions can make it difficult because there’s a small window of time to get a mission launched or recovered,” explained McDermott.
While the AEOT members may not be in the same role as their flying team counterparts, they are still able to see the benefit of how they are impacting the AE mission.
“The most rewarding part of the job is knowing that we had a major part in that mission being successful and those patients getting where they needed to be and getting the proper care needed,” said Mitchell.