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NEWS | March 20, 2024

Pennsylvania Guard Conducts Medical Cold-Load Training in Africa

By Capt. Amanda Mayer, Pennsylvania National Guard

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – Combat medics from the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team who are deployed to the Horn of Africa conducted joint medical evacuation cold-load training aboard a KC-130J aircraft with U.S. Air Force personnel March 5.

The medics participated in casualty evacuation operations with flight medical personnel and aircraft crew members.

The training ensures interoperability with key U.S. military assets to expedite patient transfers to and from an aircraft if necessary for lifesaving measures and medical evacuation.

“During the training, my team and I had the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the process of loading and unloading casualties on and off a field litter ambulance,” said Sgt. Tiffany Cunningham, a combat medic with Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The Air Force Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight and the KC-130J loadmasters from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 facilitated the training with Task Force Paxton medics.

“This was a new and exciting experience for me as I had the opportunity to interact with the flight medical crew and gain hands-on experience in the aircraft,” said Cunningham.

Flight and medical teams guided the medics on safely entering and exiting the aircraft with a patient on a two- or four-person litter, following signals from the aircrew for approach and loading.

“The Air Force Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight is the primary mover of joint forces across the globe from point of injury or medical facility to higher echelons of care and, ultimately, home,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Yanna Horsch, a flight nurse and operations officer with the 10th EAEF.

The team includes flight nurses like Horsch and aeromedical evacuation technicians trained in aerospace medicine.

“In our training, we go through essentially setting up a hospital inside an aircraft,” said Horsch. “This includes bringing all equipment to set up oxygen, electrical, amperage calculations and prep, litter stanchion setups to get litters on board, and other medical equipment to provide care to patients in flight.”

EAEF members undergo specialized training in aircraft emergencies, egress procedures, aircraft configuration and survival, evasion, resistance and escape techniques.

Horsch and her team work with loadmasters for the assigned aircraft to accomplish multiple objectives.

“We conduct aerial delivery and movement of injured personnel on litters,” said Sgt. James Townsend, an augmented crew station loadmaster with KC-130J detachment, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261.

This training facilitates collaboration between medics, flight medical personnel, and aircrew, enabling them to engage in practice drills and enhance their skills. The goal is to establish a cohesive and reliable medical evacuation response.

“Being able to look someone in the eyes and tell them, ‘We’re going to take care of you, and we’re going to get you home,’ it’s the best feeling in the world,” said Horsch.




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