USAF CCATT airlifts 16-month burns patient

Staff Sgt Angel Figueroa, 18th Medical Operations Squadron technician, (left) and Lt Col Leslie Wood, 18th AES chief of West Pacific Air Force CCAT, pictured during the mission (Senior Airman Quay Drawdy/USAF)

US Air Force (USAF) personnel and US Navy sailors worked together to outfit a C-17 Globemaster III plane with life-saving equipment on 13 May at Kadena Air Base, Japan. They prepared the logistics and materials for a specialised life-support omnibed system that was put into a Globemaster III for the first time. The bed was required to transport a 16-month-old burn victim from US Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, to Travis Air Force Base, California, US, for onward transfer to a civilian hospital for treatment.

While the system traditionally used by the Air Force, known as VERIFY, was too small for the child, said the Air Force, a regular hospital bed would have been too large. Airmen assigned to the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES) worked with sailors to come up with a solution that would allow the child to survive the more than 10-hour flight back to the US. The answer, said the USAF, was to secure a ‘Giraffe’ omnibed system used in neo-natal intensive care units into a Globemaster III.

“The child was too large for all of our normal equipment,” said 1st Lt Kristen Hawkins, 18th AES staff duty officer. “The ‘Giraffe’ is large enough, but it’s usually used in hospitals, not aircraft.”

The Giraffe system had never been used on a C-17 before and required extensive planning and co-ordination between units across Kadena, as well as help from the Navy, to ensure everything was ready for use, said the USAF.

“One thing I feel is important to mention is the whole team approach,” said Lt Col Leslie Wood, 18th AES chief of West Pacific Air Force critical care air transport team (CCATT). “Not only do we have multiple units coming together, but multiple services. We wouldn’t have been able to get this piece of equipment if the United States Naval Hospital hadn’t been willing to release it to us .”

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