Medical Group Airmen to handle critical care transports
By Tech. Sgt. D. Clare, 123d Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 13, 2011
KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air National Guard will soon be in the Critical Care Air Transport Team business.
With rising demands on active duty forces, the Air National Guard was recently asked to field 13 teams to support global medical evacuations.
The Kentucky Air National Guard was the first to respond to the request and volunteered to stand up two teams, 123d Airlift Wing leaders said. The ANG plans on standing up 18 full CCATTs from 17 states altogether.
In addition to supporting the active duty - 14 teams are required to be tasked full time in support of current combat operations - the unique capability will advance the push by Col. Greg Nelson, 123d AW commander, to give his unit and the Air National Guard a prominent role in the event of an attack on the nation or a natural disaster.
"For Kentucky to be represented in the [combat area of operations] says a lot about what this state brings to the fight. It's a specialized mission, a low-density, high-value mission," said Maj. Brian McMorrow, Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) Medical Plans and Operations Officer.
"If CERFP is stood up to respond in homeland defense instances, the medical group will be able to bring that capability to the fight. A Kentucky team would be able to transport a patient to the doorstep of Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] or anywhere, no matter what the distance via our C-130s," said Major McMorrow.
For nearly a year, Kentucky aircrews have supported CCATT training by taking active duty and reserve component students training at the University of Cincinnati on simulated aeromedical evacuation missions.
Already, Lt. Col. David Worley, a critical care nurse, is with the first composite Air National Guard team providing life saving evacuations for patients evacuated from the combat theater. He stands on alert at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany now.
Nationwide the ANG teams, consisting of a specially trained physician, nurse and enlisted respiratory technician, will be fully trained and online for service within two years, according to Col. Brett Wyrick, the air surgeon for the ANG.
According to Major McMorrow, Kentucky's close relationship with Colonel Wyrick helped the Commonwealth in its bid to secure two teams for global and stateside missions. Further, Kentucky already had ground critical care units trained in place. All that will be required for the Kentucky teams to qualify and be ready for missions is aeromedical qualification training just up the road in Cincinnati and follow-on schooling in San Antonio.
The CCATT concept was introduced by the Air Force surgeon general about 10 years ago to meet a need for transporting the most critically injured patients in the aeromedical evacuation system.
The concept and advances in battlefield medicine and initial care are largely credited for the unprecedented survivability rate among those wounded in the current wars.
"This is a mission where we actually bring ... everything that you would find in an intensive care unit to the air frame," Colonel Wyrick said. "And it gives us the ability to move injured and wounded Soldiers and Airmen, Marines ... from the forward areas of the battlefield back to a tertiary care facility either in Europe, the Pacific or the United States."
Tech. Sgt. George Plaza, Cardio Pulmonary Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for the 123d Medical Group and future CCATT member, said he looks forward to the challenge.
"Everyone is looking forward to this. It's another opportunity for the Kentucky Air National Guard to provide our services with our counterparts on active duty and fellow Guardsmen," said Sergeant Plaza. "It's another chance for Kentucky Airmen to put our best foot forward."