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18th AES performs first joint intratheater air evacuation training on island

18th AES performs first joint intratheater air evacuation training on island

Story by SSgt Jasmonet Jackson on 07/24/2019

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii The 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron finished their first joint intratheater training on the island of Oahu July 18, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

In order to execute this training and hone their mission-essential skills, the 18th AE crew teamed up with the 172nd Airlift Squadron and 183rd AES from the Mississippi Air National Guard, the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment from Wheeler Army Airfield, and the 15th Medical Group from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The 18th AES maintains a forward presence in the Pacific to support medical contingencies, which also includes the only neonatal air facility in the region. The AE squadron’s area of operations is the largest in the military and extends from the Horn of Africa to Alaska.

“We have worked with so many within the Pacific and back stateside, but this training is island specific” said Staff Sgt. Freddie Smith, 18th AES medic. “We are focusing on the capabilities that Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam has and the entire island.”

In addition to focusing on the island’s capabilities, one of the main goals for the 18th AES was to segway from the traditional hospital-based care to more of a tactical one in a simulated wartime environment.

To simulate a wartime environment, Airmen assigned to the 15th MDG had simulated burns and other injuries from simulated enemy fire. They were then airlifted from Schofield Barracks Army Post in a U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawk. Those injured patients were brought to Naval Air Station, Barbers Point, where they boarded a C-17 Globemaster III to be further treated in air until they reached the highest echelon of care at a military hospital.

The 172nd Airlift Wing and 183rd AES played a major role, while also training the Airmen and fulfilling their annual training requirements.

“This is a huge deal for [MSANG] because it’s always great for our new Airmen to get as close to real world experience as possible,” said Tech Sgt. Tara Blackwell, 183rd AES health service tech. “With a deployment coming up, this is ideal for everyone.”

The U.S. Army added another vital element in the successful execution of this training.

“It’s been great to have them [DUSTOFF] on board in this training” said Smith. “They came into this with an open mind, swooped in, grabbed the [patients] and got them to us.”

Although this training was centered around island specific capabilities, training with the MSANG crew and the sister services is vital to maximizing the chances of a patient’s survival, whether it be domestic or deployed.

“Working with another AE unit outside of my own was an experience because I was able to see how they operated in this theater,” said Senior Airman Everett Morris, 183rd AES medic. “It was good to see that we were all on the same page, but also learn some new things to take back to Mississippi with us.”

Fostering great partnerships among the AE crews is a must, but at the end of the day they all have one thing in common: Airmen and families.

“We train like we fight because this is the part that we play in taking care of the Airmen and families,” said Smith. “If the family is taken care of, then the mission is taken care of. The family is the mission at that point.”

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