Back to Top Skip to main content

Air Force Unit provides worldwide medical response capability

Two military personnel loading equipment onto an aircraft Air Force Senior Airman Vanessa Colindres, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical technician (right), helps load a litter of medical gear onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft to prepare for a combat aeromedical evacuation mission at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in August 2020. (Photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

On a typical mission with one crew, two flight nurses and three aeromedical technicians, the Airmen assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron have the ability to transform nearly any cargo aircraft into a flying hospital.

“We can basically configure our aircraft to meet our needs,” said Air Force Maj. Christine Cardoza, 379th EAES flight nurse. “We run the entire medical portion of an airborne mission while usually flying a basic five-man crew and, depending on the aircraft, we could have anywhere from one to almost 100 patients at a time ranging from minor injuries to critically ill patients.”

The 379th EAES crews provide time sensitive in-flight patient care, transporting patients from around the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility in Southwest Asia back to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar before they begin their journey back to the U.S. to receive more specialized care.

“It’s amazing how quickly a non-scheduled mission can spin up and we are sent out the door ready to take on however many patients, any type of health issue from medical health and non-battle injuries to battle injuries,” Cardoza added. “Once in the AE system, the patient’s survival rate, I believe, is more than 98%! Being a part of that is an honor in itself.”

While there are specific medical training requirements to be a flight nurse and aeromedical technician, all aerospace medical personnel are also required to go through the Flight Nurse/Aeromedical Technical course, also known as Aeromedical Evacuation Initial Qualification course. During this course, participants start with the academic portion of their jobs and then transition to hands-on training with aircraft simulators.

“As AE crew members, we universally qualify on the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adam Willemssen, 379th EAES superintendent and First Sergeant.

Willemssen added that his team can also receive short-notice familiarization training for a C-5 Galaxy or KC-10 Extender aircraft and transform them to meet mission requirements within 45 minutes with missions ranging from military operations, to humanitarian aid, to disaster response.

“AE is critical to the Department of Defense and Air Force mission for several reasons,” explained Willemssen. “We as an AE force enabler stand ready to assure commanders and service members that we’ll take care of them and get them home if they are injured or fall ill.  We are also the only branch that does fast, long-range, mass patient movement - a mission that also comes in handy during natural disasters and national emergencies.”

Willemssen stated that part of AE culture is being mindful of the potential for stress and exhaustion. His squadron members have worked together to develop a strong support system in which the crews on standby will help with loading and offloading of the hundreds of pounds of gear onto an aircraft before and after a mission regardless of time or length of the mission.

The fast-paced responses and long mission durations the members of the 379th EAES experience are a piece of a much larger system to ensure total mission success. Despite the rigors of their mission, AE teams, like Cardoza’s and Willemssen’s, understand how critical their efforts are.

“The most rewarding thing about being the superintendent and first sergeant in an AE Squadron is that I get to help people every day, even on days I’m not flying,” said Willemssen. “When I do get to fly the occasional mission, I get to return our sick and injured to their families back home and that is always a righteous mission.”

You also may be interested in...

Fort Irwin DENTAC strives to reach readiness perfection

Article
10/21/2020
Image of patient getting a dental exam

To accommodate an entire installation, the dental clinic extended its hours.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS | Combat Support

Navy pharmacy techs support COVID-19 and MHS GENESIS efforts

Article
10/20/2020
Navy personnel in a pharmacy

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Aaron Souders is highlighted for his work as a Navy pharmacy technician.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | MHS GENESIS | Combat Support

Multinational trauma course aims to standardize battlefield care

Article
10/20/2020
Two soldiers, one laying on the ground and the other giving him medical attention

The international course...was aimed at providing unit-level health care providers life-saving instruction to increase survivability at the point of injury.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Navy tele-health supports Guam civilian hospital during COVID-19

Article
10/19/2020
Woman sitting in front of several computer monitors

[T]his is the first-ever DoD tasking for telemedicine support in response to a request from civil authorities for aid.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Combat Support | Global Health Engagement

Military pharmacy teams continue dedicated legacy of service

Article
10/19/2020
Black and white image of soldiers on the battlefield

Seven military pharmacy professionals have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

NH Bremerton relies on experienced nurse to help new moms

Article
10/16/2020
Military personnel gives nurse an award

"Navy Medicine has taken me from novice to expert over a 20 year career..."

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Women's Health | Patient Safety

DHA’s new Joint Operations Center serves as essential integration hub

Article
10/14/2020
Three military personnel looking at a document

From conference rooms to one location, DHA’s JOC gets an upgrade.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

DHA priorities focused on readiness, patients, outcomes

Article
10/7/2020
Defense Health Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Place speaks at a podium.

Adaptation key to providing outstanding care to beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support | Access to Health Care | Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

NMHM documents military medicine advancements during the Civil War

Article
10/5/2020
Old-time photo of soldiers with crutches, canes, and missing limbs.

Initial challenges to military medicine stemmed from limited medical knowledge and lack of organization in the medical corps.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 10 - October 2020

Report
10/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Characterizing the contribution of chronic pain diagnoses to the neurologic burden of disease, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2009–2018; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces healthcare workers, August 2015–April 2020; Acute and chronic pancreatitis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2004–2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Army Medical Service Officers achieve Quartermaster School first

Article
9/29/2020
Two military personnel in masks pose for picture

The curriculum covers airdrop planning, leadership, supervision, and management.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

DHA’s Vaccine Safety Hubs emphasize safety

Article
9/29/2020
Soldier filling a vaccine needle

How MHS works to improve “all things vaccine related."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Immunization Healthcare | Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Who’s got YOUR six?

Article
9/25/2020
Military husband hugging his wife

Social support is critical for performance and well-being, but your vast sources of support might not be fully obvious.

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Care | Combat Support

DoD pharmacy innovation improves patient safety and convenience

Article
9/22/2020
A pharmacy technician opens a locker holding prescription medication

Pick up your prescription when it’s convenient for you

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Technology

Life Support training classes begin at DHHQ

Article
9/21/2020
Four military personnel in masks, in a conference room, looking at a presentation on a screen, with several practice dummies

The DHHQ’s inaugural American Red Cross Basic Life Support class took place Sept. 14.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 41

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.