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378 EMDS thrives under pressure - “it’s all hands-on deck”

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Hayman
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Airmen in need of serious medical care are routinely airlifted out of the operational theater, loaded onto a cargo aircraft with other patients to reach the care they need. On May 11, 2024, a routine aeromedical evacuation mission was transiting between multiple geographically separated areas to collect patients when, suddenly, the aircraft was deemed unsafe for flight, forcing patients to offload at a location not built to support the mass influx of patients. 

Now faced with a mass casualty event involving 18 patients, the 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron responded rapidly, providing critical medical care overnight.  

"The moment we received the call, we did a total recall - it was all hands-on deck," said the 378 EMDS director of operations. "It took extreme innovation for the team to come up with the capabilities to handle the incoming numbers as we changed the configuration of the tents for inpatient beds, arranging meals and lodging swiftly."  

With their direct-action plan ready to execute, the team was mission-ready to ensure a seamless transition from the flightline to the patient clinic, even in expeditionary conditions. 

"We collected our patients into the ambulances and arrived at the clinic to unload them where our team already set up a whole system to in-process the patients and set up interviews to make sure everybody was doing well to start patient care," said a 378 EMDS clinical nurse officer in charge.

Now with the new patients officially under their care, the EMDSs team reflected on the essentials for an effective care response. 

"Find the supplies you need, get the manpower ready, and have clear lines of communication; that’s all you need to respond in a MASCAL," said a 378 EMDS clinical nurse. "Whether it's training or the real world, it doesn't matter what the mechanism is as long as you treat your patients and care for their safety."  

While the 378 EMDS continued to care for all 18 patients, a global force generation operation was taking place behind the scenes to generate a C-17 Globemaster III aeromedical evacuation mission the next day. After 24 unplanned hours on the ground, all patients were loaded onto the C-17 and able to continue their journey for required care.  

“Our Airmen are constantly exercising so they remain ready to tackle a real-world crisis,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Seth Spanier, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “The medical team’s performance under pressure is a prime example of how that training pays dividends to the overall readiness of our force as we remain postured to address global security challenges.”