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Aeromedical Evacuation team provides in-air care

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

A team of Airmen assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here traveled to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, April 19 to provide in-flight medical care to three servicemembers.

The U.S. Army Soldiers sustained multiple injuries when their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during a mission in the Central Command area of responsibility.

When wounded on the field of battle, numerous variables come into play that add to or detract from a servicemember’s chances of survival. Fortunately for those serving in theater, 455 EAES Airmen are charged with the responsibility of tipping the scales in their favor and delivering wounded warriors to top-tier care facilities around the world.

“Our primary duties are to evacuate the sick and wounded to a higher echelon of medical care,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alexander Finn, 455 EAES aeromedical evacuation technician. “We had patients that experienced IED blast while driving their MRAP, and all of them experienced traumatic brain injuries.”

Once notified of a medical evacuation mission, AE personnel collect medical data pertaining to their patients and prepare for whatever scenarios may unfold in-flight, a process that enables them to remain proactive rather than reactive.

“Part of our pre-mission planning is to review all of the patient’s medical records, plan for potential emergencies and set up our equipment accordingly,” Finn said. “We have standardized kits that we bring which have all of our medical gear, and standardized emergency equipment kits as well. Once we take off, if we don’t have the equipment properly prepared or properly function checked and it fails, there’s no turning back.”

With more than a year of training, 600 flight hours and a nursing degree under his belt, Finn, with the added support of fellow 455 EAES teammates including two flight nurses and two additional AE technicians, is well versed in the full spectrum of patient care.  

“All of our patients experienced TBIs,” Finn said. “Because that’s injury to the brain, there’s a potential of swelling which could cause life-threatening medical emergencies. So our primary responsibility was to monitor their neuro status in relation to the stress of the flight, as well as monitor their pain and give them scheduled medications.”

Finn and fellow AE Airmen prepare for each deployment, pack for each mission and tend each patient in order to flawlessly execute Role 3 and AE responsibilities in Afghanistan. As a result, all three Soldiers arrived safely at a recovery facility in Southwest Asia.

“I feel like treating our servicemembers is a higher calling,” Finn said. “I come here [to Afghanistan] and even though I don’t know these men and women personally, I have that connection to them being a servicemember. I don’t want to see them get hurt protecting our freedoms and keeping us safe. We just give them respect for that courage and take care of them to the best of our ability.”