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NEWS | Aug. 8, 2012

MEDLITE 12: Air Guard members teach aeromedical evacuation principles to Botswana defense force

By Air Force Senior Airman Lausanne Morgan 48th Fighter Wing

THEBEPHATSWA AIR BASE, Botswana - Air National Guard members along with members of the Botswana defense force worked together to kick-start MEDLITE 12 here Monday.

MEDLITE 12 is a joint exercise between U.S. and Botswana aimed to establish and develop military interoperability, regional partnership and to synchronize capacity-building. The exercise began Monday with classroom work, to include an introduction to fixed wing aircraft aeromedical evacuation principles, stresses of flight at altitude and a question and answer session to encourage dialogue.

Approximately 30 BDF personnel attended the classes, in jobs that ranged from medical technicians to nurses, loadmasters, flight engineers and aircraft mechanics.

"We're hoping that with this course we can achieve the transport of patients via aeromedical evacuation here," said Air National Guard Lt. Col. June Oldman, the MEDLITE 12 mission director. "We are here to exchange ideas and learn from each other."

She said she hopes the program would not only help the BDF, but also Botswana as a whole.

The concept of aeromedical evacuation began in 1910 and the theory behind it was to provide timely, efficient movement of patients and en route care. This type of evacuation was used extensively during World War II, the Korea War and the Vietnam War, where it saved countless lives.

North Carolina Air National Guard Maj. Chuck Scronce, a 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, said that even though the equipment used during these evacuations hasn't changed much over the years, the care given has certainly changed.

"Care has gotten progressively better since World War II," Scronce said. "Even just 10 years ago most [military members] might have died in the field; where today we have better care, giving them ... a better opportunity of surviving."

As a sister force through the state partnership program, the North Carolina Air National Guard hopes to share this knowledge with the BDF so they can provide the same care to the people of Botswana bringing them something they have never experienced, Scronce said.

Throughout the day the airmen trained their BDF counterparts and exchanged lessons learned and experiences they have had to help the BDF develop their own aeromedical evacuation program.

"They are excited to be able to help and I think if they can continue to show their leadership how excited they are and how willing they are to help they will develop a great program," Scronce said. "All the humanitarian missions I have done don't really compare to this - it's just a cool mission."

MEDLITE 12 will culminate with a mass casualty exercise on Aug. 14.