DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
On April 5, 2020, the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS) and the 943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron (AMDS) sent several highly trained medical personnel in support of a COVID-19 response team from the Air Force Reserve. The 943rd AMDS is part of the 943rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and the 920th RQW at Patrick AFB, Florida. The 943rd AMDS supports the medical needs of over 1200 Airmen.
Critical Care Respiratory Therapists are enroute to the Javits Conference Center in New York to support the converted hospital. These personnel are also members of a Critical Care Air Transport team, pronounced C-CAT. Additionally, their Chief nurse was sent to New Orleans in response to that critical need location.
CCAT is a highly specialized and uniquely skilled three-person medical team that augments standard aeromedical evacuation crew members and turns an aircraft into a flying intensive care unit, ICU. They are experienced in the care of critically ill or injured patients with multisystem trauma, respiratory failure, multiple organ failure, and other life-threatening complications.
Some of the most common procedures and medications CCAT members administer in-flight include anti-blood clot medications, painkillers, and providing oxygen and ventilation. These CCAT teams are specially trained to adapt to in-flight challenges, such as turbulence, space limitations, limited resources, and supplies.
The 943rd AMDS motto is “Non sibi sed patriae,” which is Latin for “not for self, but for country.”
The 943rd AMDS commander said, “I'm just very proud to be associated with these talented people.”
“We have more people that I expect will volunteer and I wouldn't be surprised if every last one of us would do something if asked,” said AMDS commander. “That's just the nature of the squadron that we have here.”
It isn’t easy to mobilize civilians into military status normally, much less within hours. However, the leadership across the Air Force Reserve leaned forward to pre-identify volunteers from the Selected Reserve - which are Reserve Citizen Airmen currently actively serving in the Reserve.
“You don't expect the front of a war to come stateside but that's exactly what's happened with this particular pandemic,” said AMDS commander.
Next week their Emergency Room Physician, who is also a Flight Surgeon, will be heading to New York. Additionally, a lab tech and med-tech are currently augmenting the active-duty Air Force on Davis-Monthan to meet the increased workload.
This weekend was a scheduled Unit Training Assembly, UTA, in which Air Force Reservists attend training on Saturday and Sunday. Due to increased social distancing, the 943rd AMDS was utilizing telework and minimal manning to comply with current safety measures, yet still accomplish mission requirements.
Fortunately, when the request came down on Saturday morning to mobilize there were three Personnel Specialists in the office who were able to facilitate a critical need. They quickly accomplished medical readiness procedures and generated official travel documents for the deployment.
“We had the right people in the right place to react immediately,” said AMDS commander.
This deployment is part of a larger mobilization package of more than 120 doctors, nurses and respiratory technicians in Air Force Reserve units across the nation provided over the past 48 hours in support of COVID-19 response to take care of Americans.
“The whole idea of training is to be prepared for when the day comes,” said AMDS commander. “And it has arrived.”