US and UK Reservists Share Aeromedical Evac Expertise in Longstanding Partnership

  • Published
  • By Capt. Justin Clark
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A team of Reservists from the Royal Air Force was hosted by the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron to deepen each others’ expertise and maintain their ongoing partnership during a training event at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, March 1-3, 2024.

Eleven members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s 4626 Squadron, a medical evacuation unit based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, England, trained on combat casualty care, air transport procedures, and emergency medical care alongside members of the U.S. Air Force Reserve 315th AES, located here.

Throughout the training, participants from both the U.S. and U.K. exchanged best practices, refined their medical skills, and strengthened their teamwork through simulated scenarios meant to replicate real-world emergencies, with the aim to familiarize each other so that they can work cohesively in the event of real-world need.

Wing Commander Lorrie Lawton, Officer Commanding of 4626 Squadron, emphasized the shared mission between the U.K. and the U.S. in aeromedical evacuations, highlighting the importance of joint exercises and training to enhance operational effectiveness.

“I think what our troops have learned is actually how similar we are,” said Lawton. “The U.K. and the U.S. have the same mission when we're doing aero-meds—We're getting our personnel back home. In previous conflicts, we've always been working closely with our U.S. allies, so being able to do exercises and training together with our sister squadron, we find, is absolutely vital for us.”

Aeromedical evacuation plays a crucial role in the Air Force Reserve's mission, transferring injured service members to locations where they can receive more advanced medical care. The training involved directly integrating members of 4626 into 315th AES aircrews, where they could practice and familiarize working in combined air evac teams on potentially unfamiliar aircraft.

“In future operations we have with [4626], they will be easier to adapt to working together in a more congruent atmosphere,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fox, evaluator with the 315th AES. “Interoperability with 4626 is working together, we are learning their medical systems and our medical system so that we can operate seamlessly together in an operational environment.”



In a time of war or humanitarian need, RAF and USAF aeromedical evacuation units can be interoperable. This means that they are able to evacuate each other’s injured service members to a higher echelon of medical care: Injured U.S. service members and medical personnel may fly on British aircraft when being evacuated, and vice versa.

This training partnership allows members of both Air Forces to best do that, by familiarizing each other in differences in aircraft and procedures.

“Interoperability means that, if we are out in a theater of operations, we can work on any aircraft that is presented to us,” said Lawton.

The 315th saw benefit in how the 4626 could adapt and operate leanly when needed.

“I think the biggest takeaway from 4626 for our members at the 315th was that they are able to adapt to their patients in a quicker manner than we are,” said Fox. “And I think that's something that we can learn from and how to utilize smaller aircrews to adapt to a quicker response time for our injured service members.”

One of the key highlights of the training was familiarization on the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. While the Air Forces of both countries operate the C-17 as a strategic transport aircraft, there are some minor differences in how air evac teams of each use medical equipment on the aircraft, for instance, with use of aircraft oxygen and electrical systems for patient care.


The Reserve Tie and Partnership

As Reservists in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and like their American counterparts, members of 4626 also have civilian careers, primarily in medical fields. Reservists of both respective Air Forces have a shared understanding of what it’s like to maintain both a civilian and military career.

“Having these really close relationships with our sister squadron, I think, is absolutely vital, and we need to keep on doing this,” said Lawton. “We need to keep supporting our Reservist friends as well… The similarities when you're talking to people are absolutely saying the difficulties they have trying to juggle things with the Reserves, work, home, all the rest of it.”

Lawton said that Reserve members maintaining a civilian career outside of the military actually gives them several advantages, especially in the medical expertise they bring to the military.

“Every single one of the personnel on my squadron are absolutely the highest trained from the National Health Service, so each of them are clinically current, and they are highly qualified,” said Lawton. “I would fly with any one of my personnel because I know they've had the best training, the best experience, and the best education that the NHS can offer, which means that we can give the best care for the patients that we're flying. Because they're civilians, and have civilian jobs that actually gives them an edge.”

The event provided an opportunity to continue to enhance training at home.

“Seeing what you do differently, and if there's a way that we can take some of the things that you do, the kit that you use, the processes that you do, and if we can take that back and make what we do better, I think that'll be great thing,” said Corporal Jim Hancox, paramedic with 4626. “And also to make some friends and hopefully come across people again in the future.”

Those personal connections deepen the relationship as well.

“Having that relationship with a sister squadron is absolutely vital, so that if you're deployed and you see somebody from the 315th, you know that they are your family,” said Lawton. “And actually, when you deploy, that's what you need around you is your family.”

Both teams wish for the partnership to continue to remain close.

“I think our relationship will keep on growing and developing,” said Lawton. “The more that we have time with each other, the more those friendships will develop and grow. I've already seen people that were over with us in the UK and gave us a big hug. Those friendships will keep growing and enduring, and that's what I want to take forward with this.”

4626 Squadron is a unit of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, the U.K.’s equivalent to the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Its mission as Medical Reserves is to provide personnel to the RAF and Defence Medical Services operational medical capabilities, including aeromedical evacuation and pre-hospital, primary and secondary healthcare.

The 315th AES is a component of the U.S. Air Force Reserve 315th Airlift Wing, located at Joint Base Charleston. JB Charleston served as an ideal setting for the joint training, with modern facilities and similar mission sets to RAF Brize Norton, both as large cargo and air mobility bases.

For more information on the 315th Airlift Wing, visit

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