Airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base‘s 92nd Air Refueling Squadron, 93rd ARS, 384th ARS, 97th ARS and 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, conducted an aeromedical evacuation mission Nov. 7-13, bringing 18 patients in need of medical care across the Pacific Ocean back to the United States.
Fairchild AFB Airmen worked alongside Wyoming Air National Guardsmen from the 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 18th AES, traveling across the Pacific Ocean to Kadena Air Base, Japan.
“It takes a lot of coordination and communication,” said Tech. Sgt. Alex Klinger, 187th AES aeromedical evacuation technician. “Most of our (aeromedical evacuation) units are pretty new to working with KC-135s, so working together is crucial, and communication is key.”
Aeromedical evacuation missions consist of critical care transport teams executing patient movement and care, using mobility aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker.
“We normally operate out of our unit C-130 and work in C-17s,” Klinger said. “Working in the KC-135 is a great training opportunity for both crews to work together.”
Even though the primary mission of the KC-135 is extending global reach through air refueling, the aircraft are capable of supporting a variety of missions including cargo delivery, aeromedical evacuation, passenger delivery, serving as a communication platform and more.
“The tanker is built to refuel other aircraft, but we can also lift a considerable amount of cargo,” said Capt. Chris Perry, 384th ARS KC-135 pilot. “We are one of the fastest heavy aircraft the Air Force has, and we have plenty of space to carry patients and other passengers as well.”
Aeromedical evacuation is one of the most important and challenging missions for aircrew, and can take place anytime, anywhere.
“Sometimes we have service members who are in need of urgent medical care they may not have access to,” Perry said. “As a KC-135 unit, our responsibility is to be a stable platform they can rely on. We have to be on time to make sure the medical team is able to get what they need and ensure the successful transportation of patients.”
Not only did Fairchild AFB Airmen ensure the safety and care of patients and their families, they delivered more than 2,000 pounds of cargo to additional units across the Pacific.
“It is really awesome to be able to go somewhere and give people help that they otherwise would not be able to receive,” Perry said. “It’s a different kind of mission to go and save lives, and being a part of that has definitely been rewarding.”
By working with Pacific Air Forces and Total Force partners from the 187th AES and 18th AES, Fairchild AFB Airmen were able to ensure a continued investment in a high quality of life and medical service for Airmen and joint partners in the Pacific.