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Guard and Reserve crucial to CCATT expansion

Air Force Maj. Lori Wyatt, a Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse, assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, assembles a gurney during a casualty evacuation training at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport. The Air Force is increasing the number of CCATTs to support future readiness requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. De-Juan Haley) Air Force Maj. Lori Wyatt, a Critical Care Air Transport Team nurse, assigned to the 167th Airlift Wing, Martinsburg, West Virginia, assembles a gurney during a casualty evacuation training at the Raleigh County Memorial Airport. The Air Force is increasing the number of CCATTs to support future readiness requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. De-Juan Haley)

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — The Air Force is increasing the number of Critical Care Air Transport Teams to support future readiness requirements.

CCATTs augment aeromedical evacuation crews that turn the back of an aircraft of opportunity into a flying intensive care unit. Made up of a three-person medical team, CCATTs provide advanced care, transporting severely injured or ill patients to higher levels of care.

"The National Defense Strategy directs the Department of Defense to realign planning efforts towards new national threats," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Marks, Air Mobility Command Surgeon and chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps. "Air Force combatant commanders performed a requirements analysis and determined an increased need for critical care patient transport. As a result, the Air Force Medical Service is growing its CCATT capability."

CCATTs made up of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command members constitute a significant piece of this expansion. The ANG plans on adding 34 teams and the AFRC plans on adding eight teams in 2020. Twenty-four new active duty teams are also planned for 2020.

"The Guard and Reserve support the bulk of aeromedical evacuation and CCATT capabilities," said Marks. "Any growth in the AFMS CCATT capacity always includes a sizeable Guard and Reserve footprint."

Guard and Reserve Airmen are a valuable addition to the Total Force, translating their civilian skills and experiences into their CCATT roles. Many work in civilian health facilities where the scope of practice exposes them to trauma and critical care on a daily basis.

"The civilian careers of many of our Reserve and Guard members provide opportunities to work at level 1 and 2 trauma centers," said Air Force Col. Robert Desko, Air National Guard Surgeon General. "This enables them to maintain the highest level of competencies in their field."

In addition to bringing their civilian capabilities to the Total Force CCATT capability, Guard and Reserve Airmen also solidify their skills through teaching.

"Many of our Guard and Reserve Airmen serving as CCATT physicians and nurses are board certified and experts in their field," said Air Force Col. Lisa Banyasz-de Silva, Reserve Division chief with the Air Force Reserve Command. "When they are not giving patient care, they are teaching and instructing in cutting-edge institutions. They bring their expert clinical skills to the battleground and give the best care possible to our warfighters."

This broad skillset is vital for CCATTs as they fill a critical role in augmenting aeromedical evacuation crews, safely and efficiently transporting the most critically ill or injured patients to higher echelons of care.

"CCATT capability lets our aeromedical evacuation system deliver advanced medical interventions to seamlessly transport patients from the point of injury to the rehabilitation medical facility," said Marks. "They are also able to provide this advanced care in the back of a military cargo aircraft and overcome the challenges that come with such an environment - low lighting, noise, high altitude, vibrations and a limited work space."

As the AFMS grows its CCATT capabilities, so will the vital role of the Guard and Reserve teams in meeting this crucial operational medicine requirement.

"CCATTs see a wide variety of patients with serious medical and surgical conditions," said Marks. "The broad clinical experience brought by our Total Force Airmen lets us field a stronger CCATT workforce."

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