PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron honed their medical staging skills for contingency operations during exercise MEDBEACH here Feb. 28 through March 4.
The 920th ASTS provides personnel, expertise, and equipment necessary for patient care and movement required for worldwide exercises, humanitarian relief, and disaster response operations.
Medical personnel reviewed material in classroom settings before putting their knowledge and skills to the test during hands-on instruction for medical care and wartime operations facilitated by Air Force and sister services personnel. The capstone event required everyone to rapidly respond to mass causality events in a simulated deployed location where the Airmen are ready to provide both offensive and defensive capabilities during personnel recovery, contingency location establishment, and intra-theater airlift operations while supporting the Air Force’s focus on Agile Combat Employment.
“The goal of this exercise is to show our proficiency in safe patient handling and facilitating patient movement in a rapidly changing environment. We want to see our personnel do what they are trained for as they operate between regulated and unregulated situations, practice new concepts, cooperate with new partners, and continue to test, adapt and evolve their skills,” said Capt. Robert Walsh, 920th ASTS MEDBEACH planning lead.
The joint effort involved approximately 200 personnel from 11 squadrons and included components from the Air Force, Army, Space Force, and NASA, with both active duty and reserve forces.
“It takes an entire team to organize this opportunity to prove our capabilities of providing comprehensive readiness. We needed to accomplish our primary mission, build and stretch our abilities, and integrate some of the new aspects of our mission and our requirements. We're very proud of our setup and that we continue to learn and grow,” said Tech. Sgt. Ashley Malawey, 920th ASTS MEDBEACH White Cell lead.
Being ready to provide urgent medical care and operate during conflict extends the 920th ASTS’ overall mission effectiveness and serves as a force multiplier for ACE.
“We train our medical Airmen to do the mission in contingent environments. We have the capability to go as far forward as needed because we’re next to the flight line and can be set up in one hour to receive patients. We’re testing techniques and our Tactical Medical Augmentation Team with this exercise to test how we function as a squadron,” said Lt. Col. Evelyn Crosby, 920th ASTS MEDBEACH assistant planning lead.
The TMAT team can provide extended emergency care during rescue missions. The small, multi-capable, highly skilled, and adaptable team of medical personnel can use the wing’s Personnel Recovery Task Force presentation to move higher levels of medical care further forward to wounded warriors to allow pararescuemen and specialty teams to remain closer to the battlespace.
“We developed TMAT as the piece between us and secondary care. The ASTS typically cares for relatively stable folks; we handle quick, urgent care but would burn up our supply trying to handle critical care air transport patients. Using TMAT, ASTS can function as the throughput, getting patients on and taking them off the plane. During transport, the CCAT team cares for the emergent patients, while the dedicated TMAT team can handle more stable patients so ASTS isn’t sending its members back and forth with transport,” said Crosby.
Participation in the exercise allowed the squadron an opportunity to hone their effectiveness and accomplish essential currency training.
“Meeting our time hacks is a crucial component of ASTS. We have to time everything carefully; we need to have the patients ready at a specific time because the planes are arriving within a window of time. We have to be loaded at a certain time because we have to be off the runway at another time. This exercise asks us if we correctly follow procedures and meet the time hack,” said Crosby.
Combining all training objectives and certifications that were accomplished amongst the ASTS members, the exercise saved the Air Force $1.3 million dollars by offering it locally with base assets.
In addition to the 920th ASTS’s primary mission, the squadron also supports the wing’s routine medical need of preparing members for deployment.
“Our mission is to prepare patients to move by stabilizing them and ensuring they’re ready for transport to a higher level of care. However, we also do clinical work, upgrade training, and maintenance training to be able to take care of all our 920th Rescue Wing personnel while at home station,” said Malawey.
The agile employment of patient handling the 920th ASTS facilitates is vital as the 920th RQW provides military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel around the world.