Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Air Force Unit provides worldwide medical response capability

Two military personnel loading equipment onto an aircraft Air Force Senior Airman Vanessa Colindres, 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron medical technician (right), helps load a litter of medical gear onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft to prepare for a combat aeromedical evacuation mission at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in August 2020. (Photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

On a typical mission with one crew, two flight nurses and three aeromedical technicians, the Airmen assigned to the 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron have the ability to transform nearly any cargo aircraft into a flying hospital.

“We can basically configure our aircraft to meet our needs,” said Air Force Maj. Christine Cardoza, 379th EAES flight nurse. “We run the entire medical portion of an airborne mission while usually flying a basic five-man crew and, depending on the aircraft, we could have anywhere from one to almost 100 patients at a time ranging from minor injuries to critically ill patients.”

The 379th EAES crews provide time sensitive in-flight patient care, transporting patients from around the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility in Southwest Asia back to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar before they begin their journey back to the U.S. to receive more specialized care.

“It’s amazing how quickly a non-scheduled mission can spin up and we are sent out the door ready to take on however many patients, any type of health issue from medical health and non-battle injuries to battle injuries,” Cardoza added. “Once in the AE system, the patient’s survival rate, I believe, is more than 98%! Being a part of that is an honor in itself.”

While there are specific medical training requirements to be a flight nurse and aeromedical technician, all aerospace medical personnel are also required to go through the Flight Nurse/Aeromedical Technical course, also known as Aeromedical Evacuation Initial Qualification course. During this course, participants start with the academic portion of their jobs and then transition to hands-on training with aircraft simulators.

“As AE crew members, we universally qualify on the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adam Willemssen, 379th EAES superintendent and First Sergeant.

Willemssen added that his team can also receive short-notice familiarization training for a C-5 Galaxy or KC-10 Extender aircraft and transform them to meet mission requirements within 45 minutes with missions ranging from military operations, to humanitarian aid, to disaster response.

“AE is critical to the Department of Defense and Air Force mission for several reasons,” explained Willemssen. “We as an AE force enabler stand ready to assure commanders and service members that we’ll take care of them and get them home if they are injured or fall ill.  We are also the only branch that does fast, long-range, mass patient movement - a mission that also comes in handy during natural disasters and national emergencies.”

Willemssen stated that part of AE culture is being mindful of the potential for stress and exhaustion. His squadron members have worked together to develop a strong support system in which the crews on standby will help with loading and offloading of the hundreds of pounds of gear onto an aircraft before and after a mission regardless of time or length of the mission.

The fast-paced responses and long mission durations the members of the 379th EAES experience are a piece of a much larger system to ensure total mission success. Despite the rigors of their mission, AE teams, like Cardoza’s and Willemssen’s, understand how critical their efforts are.

“The most rewarding thing about being the superintendent and first sergeant in an AE Squadron is that I get to help people every day, even on days I’m not flying,” said Willemssen. “When I do get to fly the occasional mission, I get to return our sick and injured to their families back home and that is always a righteous mission.”

You also may be interested in...

New Stop the Bleed course designed specifically for HS students

Article
7/7/2021
A medical care training exercise

New First Aid for Severe Trauma Training Can Help High School Students ‘Stop the Bleed’

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

Medical Advances Since Gulf War Boil Down to Increased Lives Saved

Article
6/25/2021
Medical personnel training on how to treat a neck wound

Not all medical advances since the first Gulf War are highly technical.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Research and Innovation | Health Innovation Month

DHA Spearheads Effort for Working Dog Research Collaboration

Article
6/25/2021
Picture of three different dogs

Working Dog Forum explored research to keep dogs in top form.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Veterinary Service | Public Health | Research and Innovation

Army’s 773rd administers mobile COVID-19 testing during DEF21

Article
6/4/2021
Three military personnel, wearing masks and lab coats, pose for a picture in an Albanian lab.

Approximately 800 Army Reserve soldiers from the U.S. and Europe participated in DEFENDER-Europe 21.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | Readiness Capabilities

MHS Minute May 2021

Video
5/28/2021
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

In this month's MHS Minute, the DHA's commitment to transforming military health continues. The DHA officially established the Tidewater market in SE Virginia, serving over 200,000 patients. The MHS is standing up 19 markets like Tidewater to allow healthcare providers to better meet the needs of their patients by improving coordination between facilities in the area.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | MHS GENESIS | Health Readiness

ADVISOR brings support to medical personnel in austere environments

Article
5/27/2021
Photo of Michael Kile, LPN, the operational readiness program manger

The Military Health System offers the Advanced Virtual Support for Operational Forces program, or ADVISOR, for remote military medical professionals.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Combat Support | Health Readiness

Signs and symptoms of a stroke, and what to do about them

Article
5/18/2021
Infographic about the sign of a stroke

For Stroke Awareness Month, we highlight some of the most important facts about strokes in men and women.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 05 - May 2021

Report
5/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Hospitalizations, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, reserve component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Surveillance snapshot: Illness and injury burdens, recruit trainees, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Medical evacuations out of the U.S. Central Command, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, deployed active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

TCCC ASM CM Student Registration Form

Form/Template
4/7/2021

Students must complete this form to register for the course. All forms are emailed to the DMRTI TCCC Section for processing.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | DMRTI Course Information | Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course (TCCC)

Tactical Combat Casualty Care All Service Member Master Trainer Course FAQs

Fact Sheet
4/7/2021

Additional information about the TCCC ASM CM course for potential students to review.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | DMRTI Course Information | Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course (TCCC)

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 04 - April 2021

Report
4/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Disparities in COVID-19 vaccine initiation and completion among active component service members and healthcare personnel, 11 December 2020–12 March 2021; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2005–2020; Skin and soft tissue infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, January 2016–September 2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

METC trains dietician techs to build, support a Medically Ready Force

Article
3/18/2021
Military health personnel preparing food trays while wearing a face mask

Nutrition plays an important role in military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 03 - March 2021

Report
3/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Influenza surveillance trends and influenza vaccine effectiveness among Department of Defense beneficiaries during the 2019–2020 influenza season; Influenza outbreak during Exercise Talisman Sabre, Queensland, Australia, July 2019; Update: Sexually transmitted infections, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012–2020; A retrospective cohort study of blood lead levels among special operations forces soldiers exposed to lead at a firing range in Germany.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Training for a healthy heart can improve overall health

Article
2/22/2021
Military personnel wearing a mask exercising in the gym

Service members must be heart healthy to perform optimally throughout their military careers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Drawing blood, giving back life: techs support medical readiness

Article
2/22/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask drawing blood from military personnel wearing a mask

Two of the military’s blood technicians say their work is vital and rewarding.

Recommended Content:

Armed Services Blood Program | Combat Support
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 41

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.