BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Airmen assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron participated in a training exercise with pararescuemen from the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron and Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter crews Feb. 21 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
During the exercise, pararescuemen and CH-47 crews picked up personnel with simulated injuries and flew them to a staging location. They cross loaded the patients into a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft where aeromedical Airmen immediately took over stabilizing the patients.
Although this was a training scenario, it closely reflects the mission these Airmen are responsible to accomplish in this combat zone.
“Our job is to move wounded warriors and civilians to a higher level of care,” Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Carroll, superintendent 455th EAES said. “For us that is such an honor.”
Aeromedical evacuation Airmen are responsible for regulated and unregulated patient movements in and out of Afghanistan. In order to accommodate patient care in any scenario, these Airmen have to be flexible and prepared to depart at a moment’s notice.
“We may get a call to go out and pick up two patients, but when we get there we have 20 patients to pick up,” said Lt. Col. Micheal Boles, commander 455th EAES. “But, because of how dedicated our Airmen are they have no problem dropping whatever they are doing and going full speed to make sure the mission gets done.”
Carroll said flexibility is key to mission success because the mission is always changing. With good communication, the team can always work through the changes.
After every mission the team comes together for a debrief where everyone from the lowest to the highest rank has the ability to voice their opinions on what the team could have done better to provide the highest level of care possible.
“When we debrief is where I get to step into the mentoring position,” Boles said. “Whether it’s professional mentoring or an Airman is having trouble with something they saw, I have the honor of stepping in and providing care to my Airmen.”
Carroll recalled one of the moments when he realized the importance of his job. He said after his 2014 deployment he was invited to a quilter’s meeting with his mom, where they were making quilts for veterans.
“At that meeting a Marine showed up that I had helped to bring home after an injury,” Carroll said. “He spoke about his patient movement, and I got to meet his kid that was born after he had made it home safely.”
Carroll said knowing he had a role in ensuring that Marine was able to come home to his family brings him immense pride and job satisfaction.
During the training event, every Airman treated the scenario like a real medical evacuation and gave it their all. This hands-on training makes them better prepared to save lives when the time comes.