JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
The 59th Medical Wing executed three back-to-back aeromedical transport missions departing from Joint Base San Antonio July 19, making coast-to-coast stops before returning home two days later.
A Critical Care Air Transport Team transferred a burn patient and another suffering from a gunshot wound, both injuries sustained downrange, from Walter Reed National Medical Center.
The burn patient was brought to San Antonio Military Medical Center, while the other continued on to Madigan Army Medical Center, Fort Lewis, Washington.
Before departing Kelly Air Field, Texas for Washington in a C-17 Globemaster III, the team received notification of the mission extending, adding additional pediatric specialists to accommodate the transport of a toddler from San Diego, California.
“Executing multiple missions on short notice prepares us to not only work on our skills, but also to think outside the box as we would have to in a warzone,” said Capt. Eric Nelson, 59th MDW CCATT registered nurse. “Our domestic CCATT missions are critical to our teams being prepared for overseas operations. These are not any less important than wartime transports, but our experience and furthering proficiency definitely prepares us for what could be in the future.”
Teams are regularly dispatched all over the globe to respond to emergencies, assist in DOD contingency missions and reinforce readiness training through real-world civil and humanitarian assistance missions.
The CCATT operates an intensive care unit in an aircraft cabin during flight, adding critical care capability to the U.S. Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation System. Prior to transport, patients have received initial stabilization, but are still critically ill and require evacuation to a more specialized medical facility.
“Missions multiplying doesn’t happen that often during peacetime, but in wartime, that can happen every day,” said Col. Mark Ervin, 59th MDW’s Operational Medicine chief. “This is an example of the 59th’s flexibility, resiliency and relevance that our wing is the 9-1-1 button. If you have a critical situation, we have the ability to address that issue.”
The 59th MDW houses 30 teams with CCATT capabilities. Normally consisting of three members, teams can adjust depending on the patient requirements. Each CCATT includes a critical care physician, a critical care nurse and a respiratory therapist and they are equipped to care for three critically injured patients for up to 72 hours.