SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
Airmen across the Air Force assigned to 31 aeromedical evacuation squadrons must complete vigorous training to provide life-saving in-transit care on fixed wing aircrafts.
The 375th Air Mobility Wing’s newest Formal Training Unit, Detachment 4, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the only hub for this distinctive training.
The unit was realigned from Headquarters Air Mobility Command to the 375th Operations Group in February. Det. 4 incorporates AE support, deployment, humanitarian and global response training scenarios for their students.
As the only AE FTU, Det. 4 standardizes qualification training for all reserve, guard, and active duty flight nurses and aeromedical evacuation technicians. In addition to providing initial (FN/AET) qualification training, Det. 4 also provides initial flight instructor qualification for both FNs and AETs.
“Most medical jobs are very similar; the big difference between us and medics at a hospital is that most of our care happens at 40,000 feet in the air using specialized equipment,” said Capt. Joshua Williams, Det. 4, 375th Operations Group flight examiner. “We are capable of providing any level of care from medical-surgical level to step down ICU care in the air.”
FN’s are in charge of the medical aspect and the overall operational mission. They develop nursing care plans and direct the best course of action in the continuation of care. The FNs also coordinate with the pilot to safely integrate medical care to aircraft capabilities ensuring all patient needs are meet.
AETs are responsible for everything that happens on the aircraft as well as providing outstanding patient care. They configure the plane, ensure safe ground operations, provide medical equipment/aircraft integration and coordinate with the FN to provide patient placement.
In order for these individuals to enter the aeromedical career field, they must submit a package and complete both the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine course and the initial qualification course at the FTU. At the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine the students are given the aerospace medicine and physiology knowledge required for AE. Once this didactic phase is complete the students transition to the FTU, where they learn to combine clinical skills and knowledge with aircrew procedures and aircraft operational capabilities.
The FTU training starts with five academic training days covering essential Air Force instructions.
Students then receive three days of hands on training on C-17, C-130, and KC-135 aircraft.
Then over the next 10 days the students incorporate simulation missions where they piece together the knowledge they have learned in ten static training missions.
Once training is complete students move onto the evaluation phase where they are tested on the training they have received which includes an evaluation on an operational flight.
“We take the building blocks and add to those with aircraft and aircrew knowledge. From there they will go to their home units, where they will actually get their mission qualification training,” said Williams.
Mission qualification training encompasses local procedures, as well as everything the students will need to be successful in a deployed environment.
“We train everyone the exact same way, so when we are down range and deploy with different units, we know they all have the same training,” said Tech. Sgt. Danny Au, AET Evaluator.
“We know what they know, and they know what we know.”
Williams said that, “It takes a lot of mental preparation and dedication to the uniform and wounded service members to complete all the qualification courses.”
“You’ve got to be able to stay calm, cool, and collected when everything else is chaos,“ said Au. “You really need to be able to think outside the box, and critically think to make a way when there wasn’t a way to get things done.”