The Air Force completed an unprecedented mission in August 2019, when paramedics from across the force gathered to evacuate a seriously injured soldier. With a C-17 Globemaster III crew and refuelling aircraft positioned on the way, 18 rescuers, including a critical airlift team, transferred the patient directly from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. At every stage and in difficult conditions, Airmen has provided extraordinary care to save a life. Although the duration of this mission has been difficult and unprecedented, it is the type of mission that the Air Force prepares every day and provides medical support to law enforcement. Air Force paramedics remain ready to respond to this reputation and “fight tonight” by maintaining clinical currency and capabilities through patient treatment and on-call training. To keep aircraft in flight, the Air Force`s main skills are aeromedical evacuation, battlefield medicine and aerospace medicine. “Air Force paramedics not only provide drugs used in the back of an aircraft and in the Downrange, but they also support aircraft fighting from U.S. bases,” said Brigadier General Mark Koeniger, commander of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency. “Our challenge is to keep our paramedics ready to carry out these missions.” Air Medicine Mission For Captain Michael Ferraro, A family physician with the Operational Medicine Clinic at Holloman Air Force Base, In New Mexico, taking care of ready-to-use aircraft means regularly visiting the airline. Ferraro works in a neck and back clinic for pilots and understands his medical problems and needs. Instead of waiting for his patients to come to see him as soon as they are injured, he goes to them to keep them in combat shape.
“Pilots, like those flying the F-16, are under high stress and have conditions that are consistent with what we see in top athletes,” Ferraro said. “As an osteopath, I assist pilots with preventive care and keep the effects on their bodies during years of flight.” Brigadier General Robert Marks, Commander of Air Mobility Command, explains that medical aircraft on an airplane provide the same exceptional care as in a clinic. “We have physicians who have experience in managing patients in an institution,” Marks said.