STUTTGART, Germany --
Imagine flying at 34,000 feet, then suddenly a portion of the crew quickly puts on their oxygen masks while rushing to provide care for their patients.
That is just one of the many training scenarios the active duty and Reserve aeromedical evacuation team worked through on a recent training mission to Germany.
“We have to train like we deploy,” said Master Sgt. Gregory Gaines, a medical technician with the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. “Training with a mixed (active duty and reserve) crew allows us to maintain continuity and comradery between the different AE (Aeromedical Evacuation) squadrons.”
The AE crew consisted of members from the 315thAES at JB Charleston, 43rdAES from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, and the 36thAES from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi.
On the mission, the crew simulated smoke and fire in the aircraft cabin as well as smoke inhalation from one of the patients. The team also practiced rapid decompression, the ability to verbally deescalate a psychiatric patient who is experiencing stress and anxiety, just to name a few.
During the training mission Lt. Col. Bonnie Stevenson, 43rdAES commander, received an evaluation or “check-ride” completing her requalification training as a flight nurse.
“I have been out of AE for a while and the 315this always good about letting us hop on a mission with them,” she said.
Stevenson also explained that the majority of the overall AE mission rests with the reserve component. She said the active duty only has four AE squadrons and roughly 88 percent of the overall AE capability rests with the guard and reserve.
“When you deploy with AE, you always fly with a rainbow (mixed) crew. It’s always good to see things from a different prospective, and to see how other units do things,” she said.
Staff Sgt. Nichole Bryant, is a medical technician with the 315thAES and a civilian nurse at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida was one of the medical technicians on the crew.
“I have deployed twice and was nervous both times and when you train like this, you realize this is more than just a job,” she said. “You realize that you are providing care and comfort for your brothers and sisters. Our job is to get them home to their family.”
Bryant also said this kind of training mission helps put things into prospective.
“We might only be able to show our patients a friendly face or a smile but we want them to know that we are there for them,” she said.