AUAB power projection: Aeromedical Evacuation
By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 18, 2019
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- If any servicemember throughout U.S. Central Command needs medical care beyond what they are able to receive locally, they don’t need to worry. The 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has them covered.
From injuries to illnesses, aeromedical evacuation technicians and flight nurses from the 379th EAES are trained and equipped to provide in-flight medical support for patients who need to make the journey to Al Udeid for more advanced medical care.
“Our mission is to bring back patients that are sick or injured from all over the CENTCOM area of responsibility,” said Capt. Aline Putnam, 379th EAES flight nurse. “I think that the people out there doing the missions, forward deployed, fighting the good fight can do their jobs easier, and their leadership can make decisions with confidence knowing that if something happens, there is aeromedical evacuation to come pick them up and bring them home to safety.”
Aeromedical evacuation technicians and flight nurses provide a variety of medical services, to include pain management, psychiatric care, and medical emergency response.
“We train for the worst possible scenario,” said Putnam. “We're trained and qualified to handle a cardiac arrest if it should happen on the aircraft. That's bearing in mind that we don't have doctors on board, so [we have] more extensive training for the nurses and technicians.”
Because the need for an aeromedical evacuation can come without warning, Putnam said the team must be able to respond quickly once they receive a mission notification.
“We got alerted out of the blue for an urgent patient, a wounded warrior downrange,” said Putnam. “We got the call and were out the door in twenty minutes. We had already had our crew rest and were ready to go, bags packed.”
Senior Airman Robert McCabe, 379th EAES aeromedical evacuation technician, said the unique capability his team brings to the region is both important and challenging.
“It wouldn't be possible to move critical patients back from the frontlines without trained aircrew medical technicians and flight nurses,” he said. “It's not an easy job, but we all make the best of it. It's worth it.”
With 11 successful missions under their belts, Putnam said she and her crew take pride in caring for servicemembers who put themselves in harm’s way.
“It's rewarding knowing my crew plays an integral part getting that wounded warrior home,” said Putnam. “We get the privilege of picking up battle injuries and playing that role in getting them to higher care. That's the most rewarding part in my whole nursing career, taking care of those kinds of patients.”