Rescue wing leaders give a lift to deployed medical Reservists

Lt. Col. Stephanie Shaw, 920th Rescue Wing executive officer, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., assists deployed medical Reservists from the 920th RQW, during a visit to Ramstein Air Base, Germany with wing leadership to observe them in action. According to wing leaders, members of the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron are providing a high-level of care to wounded warriors who come through their facility. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Stephanie Shaw, 920th Rescue Wing executive officer, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., assists deployed medical Reservists from the 920th RQW, during a visit to Ramstein Air Base, Germany with wing leadership to observe them in action. According to wing leaders, members of the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron are providing a high-level of care to wounded warriors who come through their facility. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Jeffrey Macrander, 920th Rescue Wing commander, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., coins Senior Master Sgt. Anthony James, superintendent, 86th Contingency Aeromedical Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during a visit to Germany with wing leadership to observe 920th deployed medical reservists in action. The leadership was impressed with the high level of care that the deployed 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron members were consistently providing to wounded service members who came through their facility. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Jeffrey Macrander, 920th Rescue Wing commander, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., coins Senior Master Sgt. Anthony James, superintendent, 86th Contingency Aeromedical Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, during a visit to Germany with wing leadership to observe 920th deployed medical reservists in action. The leadership was impressed with the high level of care that the deployed 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron members were consistently providing to wounded service members who came through their facility. (Courtesy photo)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Editor's note: The 920th Rescue Wing vice commander wrote this after a recent visit with wing leadership to medical Airmen who are deployed from the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force, Fla., to Germany. The wing leaders witnessed, first hand, the high level of care that deployed medical Reservists provide to wounded warriors.

The smell of diesel fuel filled the cold, pre-dawn, German air as Senior Airman Brent Wilkins, infection control monitor and bravo shift leader, 86th Contingency Aeromedical Squadron here, carefully inspected his AMBUS, which is a school bus that has been modified inside as an ambulance and is utilized for transporting injured service members from downrange. First the blinkers, tail lights, headlights, then the oxygen bottles, litter stands, pulse oximeters, defibrillator and Zoll monitors. He inspected the AMBUS for safety from head to toe knowing the importance of the packages that were about to arrive.

Soon thereafter in the morning briefing, Wilkins and many other deployed members of the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force, Fla., serving at the 86th CASF here, learned of their precious cargo.

"Today we will be receiving seven critical care air transport also know as CCAT patients, 12 litter patients and 15 ambulatory," said Staff Sgt. Liam Velez, delta shift leader, 86th CASF. Velez continued, "They will be arriving on Reach 241 at 1030 hours on the ramp for transport to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center."

Landstuhl is a 10-minute bumpy bus from Ramstein. As the morning continued, Wilkins and Velez scrubbed patients' mattresses and prepared rooms for the new arrivals, specifically placing homemade quilts on each incoming patient's bed. Meanwhile, Senior Master Sgt. Anthony James, superintendent, 86th CASF, coordinated the inbound aircraft showing Chief Lori Martin, senior air Reserve technician, 920th RQW, where potential problems might occur and how to mitigate them in advance.

Master Sgt. Ester Noel, inhouse coordinator, 86th CASF, kept close track of all the patients, ensuring preflight assessments by a flight surgeon and informing loved ones back home of their warrior's return dates. Tech. Sgt. Brenda Stephens, senior health services manager, 86th CASF, tracked the administrative paperwork from bag tags to orders ensuring each wounded warrior had their valuables safely delivered, and provided them personal items if any of their things were lost in combat. She also ensured inbound aircraft were on time and coordinated the bus transportation to the flightline.

Maj. Laura Reitz, CONUS nurse; Master Sgt. Todd Bulger, in-house coordinator; Master Sgt. Austin Gerald, senior mental health technician; Senior Airman Max Rodriquez, delta shift grounds keeper; Senior Master Sgt. Keith Stephens, delta shift leader; Tech. Sgt. Betsy Waters, alpha shift vehicle specialist; and Tech. Sgt. Scott Roberts, alpha shift safety representative, all assigned to the 86th CASF, compassionately performed duties and responsibilities with the highest degree of professionalism and care.

As the wounded warriors arrived on ventilators and medical pumps, these highly motivated, quiet medical professionals efficiently transferred the patients from the C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft to the waiting bus. However, on this day, Col. Jeff Macrander, 920th Rescue Wing commander; Col (Dr.) Rich Huot, 920th ASTS commander; Command Chief Master Sgt. Timothy Bianchi, command chief; Martin; Lt. Col. Stephanie Shaw, executive officer; and I helped lifted the patients on litters onto the busses and aircraft.

We all had the opportunity to feel, first hand, the enormity of the operation, for just one day. The members of the 86th CASF do this continually with pride and compassion for their entire tour, sometimes up to two years.

To ensure mission success, James instituted a specialized physical training program. Lifting each wounded warrior weighing over 300 pounds including oxygen, ventilators and pumps several times a day, was a tribute to the impressive training program inspired by James named the CASF Challenge. James' course included physically strenuous activities with medical skills interwoven into a highly specialized confidence course.

From the moment the first C-17 arrived from Bagram, Afghanistan until the last patient was loaded onto C-17s heading to the U.S., I had the honor and privilege of witnessing this well-orchestrated machine with highly motivated individuals from our 920th ASTS deployed to Germany.

Our wounded warriors were treated to phenomenal care by doctors, nurses, med techs and CCAT teams who were composed of members of our 920th ASTS deployed to the 86th CASF. The attitudes of our deployed members, led by Lt. Col. Julie Steele, troop commander, 86th CASF, and James, were so noteworthy the commander of the 86th CASF literally ran across the street to meet Colonel Macrander asking for more 920th Airmen to come and support.

In the words of the 86th Medical Group commander, Col. (Dr.) David Cunningham, "We could not perform our mission to the highest level and quality we would like, without the professionalism of the members of the 920th ASTS."These heartfelt comments resonated with the rest of his staff composed of 25 percent active duty and 75 percent Guard and Reserve.

I salute the members of this impressive deployed force for the dedication and contribution to our rescue mission statement, "These things we do that others may live."

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