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Kentucky National Guard medevac provides lifesaving service to Virgin Islands

By Maj. Stephen Martin | Kentucky National Guard | November 02, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Kentucky Guard Medevac responded to the call for support to the Virgin Islands the day after Labor Day for hurricane relief operations. Det. 1, Charlie Co of 2nd Battalion, 238th Medevac out of Frankfort, Kentucky, flew out of the 123rd Air Wing Base in Louisville and began search and rescue and lifesaving operations immediately across the various Islands down south.

"We were called to an urgent transfer from the island of St. Croix to St. John where a patient had suffered a serious laceration on their arm," said 1st Lt John Kerr, platoon leader for the Medevac unit. "The call came to us from the clinic on the small island and it was late at night with very little moonlight available. Power was still out throughout the island but we knew the location quite well.

"Once we landed at the clinic, both flight medics went inside to meet with the doctors on site and to get the PCR (patient care report). Once they had the information the flight medics loaded the patient and we departed for San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico where they had set up a triage (sorting by severity of injury) to help patients. The flight took about 35 minutes and the flight medics were able to stabilize the patient so we could arrive to the triage. We landed in San Juan and we were successful in saving the patient and (getting him) the medical care he needed."

The unit flew 88.6 hours in support of passenger and patient movement as well as evacuating themselves to Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria ripped through just a couple of weeks later. They then returned to the Virgin Islands for follow-on support.

All-in-all, the aviation Soldiers were able to move 17 patients over the month-long deployment and facilitated three rescue-hoist missions to critical care facilities.

"I believe we have been training up to a moment like this for the past few years," said Kerr. "Our medics are extremely well trained and specialized in all scenarios. We had the best equipment and support from not only the Virgin Islands but Kentucky as well. It felt great to be able to fully utilize our training to assist those who need it most. I am very proud to be a Kentucky Guardsman and even more to be in such an amazing unit."

Hurricane Maria