Dissimilar aircraft, same mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Grace Thomson
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Airmen with the 911th Airlift Wing recently hosted aeromedical training with Airmen from the 914th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron during joint training at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, April 25, 2019.

This training was arranged alongside refueling missions and training conducted between the two reserve wings as part of the 911th AW’s ongoing C-17 conversion. The 914th ARW, which works primarily with KC-135 Stratotanker, took advantage of the rare opportunity to conduct training inside the much larger 911th AW C-17s.

“[In] the aeromedical evacuation world, we are qualified in three primary aircraft: the C-130 Hercules, KC-135 and C-17 Globemaster III,” said Col.  David J. Schieber, 914th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron commander. “We are required to be able to operate in all three aircraft on any AE mission, so we require refresher and continuation training on each aircraft and this was our opportunity to get it accomplished.”

Before the flight, one of the 911th AW loadmasters taught the 914th AES how to do a C-17 egress, which means how to disembark the aircraft as quickly and safely as possible in the event of an emergency.

The egress training started with each member of the 914th AES crew practicing how to open and close the emergency doors at all sides of the aircraft, then morphed into discussion on how to use the equipment they may use in case of evacuation.

After egress training, they practiced moving patients from outside the aircraft into the cargo bay using all required commands and hand signals. All of this was in preparation of the training they would do on the flight itself.

There was not a moment to spare during the flight as the 914th AES used every minute to train.

For the first portion of the flight, Airmen reviewed the training procedures they would use and assigned various tasks to one another. After being given the go-ahead to safely move about the cabin from the 911th AW flight engineer, they took some time to familiarize themselves with the interior of the aircraft.
“Interfacing with aircraft’s capabilities, loading and unloading and configuration are perishable skills and it is important that we remain proficient in the event that we encounter one in a deployed location,” said Staff Sgt. John Klobusnik, 914th Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical technician.

One major procedure they practiced was putting on oxygen masks in case of loss of air in the cargo bay. They practiced this procedure twice during the flight as it is important for them to put one on themselves and then the patients.

The Airmen also trained in procedures regarding special cases, such as mental health patients. They did a mock take-down of one of their own members who simulated having a mental illness for the training. They first practiced talking him down, then restraining him with their arms, then restraining him with leather cuffs, and finally sedating him. The sedation was simulated as well and the Airman was not actually medicated.

After this simulation, they did a quick after action review of the training and how to address any mistakes they made.

The training did not stop there, though, as the 914th ARW Airmen continued to check on their mannequin patients and check the equipment that was being used.

The size of the C-17 posed a particular challenge for the trainees, as it is very different from their usual place of work. The KC-135, which they normally use for their AE missions, is primarily a refueling aircraft. It can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo while the C-17 carries over double that capacity at 170,900 pounds. Though they can do similar missions with the cargo bay, this spatial difference can be enough to warrant special training according to the 914th AES Airmen.

“The C-17 allows our crews the maximum amount of space to provide patient care” said Klobusnik.

They did not only conduct training in the air, however. Their mission was two-fold: to train in dissimilar aircraft using a 911th AW C-17 and to witness a real-life mission on the ground at Joint Base Pearl Harbor – Hickam, Hawaii with the locally-based 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Detachment 1, a geographically separated unit attached to Kadena Air Base, Japan. 

Both the 911th and the 914th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons took half a day to visit the detachment and received training on everyday mission application, which is what they would be doing on deployments.

The Air Force Reserve’s mission is to provide combat ready forces to Flu, Fight and Win. They must stay trained for deployment readiness and that is exactly what these Airmen did while in Hawaii.

“It is very beneficial any time we can get inflight, ground and operational mission training and updates all rolled into a few days,” said Schieber.
Not only did they get some essential training in but they also got to know their counterparts from the 911th AW.

“The trip gave us the chance to foster relationships with Airmen and individuals we may come in contact with in the future,” said Klobusnik. “Interacting with other units gave us an opportunity to improve our mobility efficiency. Our crews were able to forge relationships with other front-end crews and practice our skills in a real-world environment.”