The US Air Force (USAF) has reported on a mission that it described as the largest aeromedical evacuation (AE) ever at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Personnel from the USAF and US Army, along with US and Japanese civilians from six different locations around the world, teamed up to transport two critical patients on 22 March.
Two C-17 Globemaster III planes, one from March Air Force Base and one from Travis Air Force Base, both in California, US, were requested to transport the patients to two separate locations: Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu and Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
Staff Sgt Brek Halgren, the 35th Medical Support Squadron aeromedical evacuation NCO in charge, commented: “We worked together with the Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center-West to conduct a telephone consult with our attending physician, chief medical officer, flight surgeon and AE office personnel. After conferring over the details and criticality of the case, it was determined this patient would require a few specialised teams.”
Due to the life-threatening condition of one patient, a critical care air transport (CCAT) team was required, calling upon multiple forces joining together to provide care, said the USAF. “Normal missions fly with three to five medical personnel,” said Halgren. “We brought in a CCAT team from Kadena Air Base, Japan, an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team from Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and a few other specialists to assist the patient in critical condition.”
Halgren added that the patient required off-site medical attention at a host-nation hospital an hour away: “This required careful co-ordination with the host-nation hospital staff. Our local medical group liaison, Mrs Naoko Takahashi, was instrumental in working with the facility to set up this transfer.”
When a case is too severe for the 35th Medical Support Squadron, Japanese counterparts in the surrounding area leap into action assisting in patient care, noted the USAF. “It was remarkable to see that much medical capability converge on our base for this service member,” Halgren said. “Three doctors from Hachinohe City Hospital accompanied the transfer and were able to witness this incredible capability. It was a great opportunity to forge ties and form relationships with the hospital and medical staff that care for many of our critical Misawa (AB) beneficiaries.”
Watch footage from the mission here.