Airborne emergency room – Airman World

Airborne emergency room – Airman World – Brief Article

Keith Reed

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — On a short electronic leash, their beepers went off, and five members of the medical team sprung into action, racing through hospital halls to gather deployment gear.

Simultaneously, the crew of an HC-130 aircraft was alerted and prepared for takeoff. This crew was deployed from the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., as part of the 71st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. They performed last-minute flight checks as they waited for the medical response team.

Notified by the search and rescue liaison officer of a downed aircraft, the five-member medical team piled into a waiting ambulance, ready for the unthinkable house call. The race to the flight line was intense — a patient needed immediate care at a remote location.

Deployed to support Operation Northern Watch, they are far from the comforts of the 59th Medical Wing at Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio.

In a whirl of activity, the team boarded the aircraft with well over 500 pounds of precious lifesaving equipment. They deployed surgical gear as they prepared for takeoff. The team members had basic information on the condition of the patient.

Once airborne they established communications with a forward-deployed medical liaison. As they received updated information, they began their turbulent mental routine. Minds raced and they prayed.

“I pray to God that the injuries are not severe and that we can pick him up without complication. I just hope we can return our patient to his family,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Zygulski, a respiratory therapist. “It sure makes the mission a lot easier knowing He (God) is up there watching over us.”

Later they concentrated on their mental checklists as they prepared to land at the austere location where the patient waited.

The HC-130 settled on the field, and and the team dashed to meet the pararescuemen who initially cared for the injured aircrew member. With noise, dust and a sense of urgency heavy in the air, the team assessed the patient’s condition and notified the Combined Air Operations Center that he was stable, and they transported him to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

Once again, a medical response team was on duty, prepared to save lives anywhere they’re needed.

COPYRIGHT 2002 U.S. Air Force, Air Force News Agency

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group