18 AES provides in-flight patient care

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nestor Cruz
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Most hospitals have winged "angels of mercy." At the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, these "angels" work on winged hospitals. 

Doctors, flight nurses and aeromedical technicians are among the 18th AES members transporting and treating patients throughout the Pacific region. 

"We are capable of transporting patients via fixed wing aircraft anywhere in the Pacific Region at any time," said Maj. (Dr.) David Huth, 18th AES director of operations. "We are the 911 emergency line for military hospitals." 

The squadron's area of responsibility covers approximately half the globe, according to the major. The AOR reaches from the east coast of Madagascar to the West Coast of the United States. 

With such a large operating area, members of the 18th AES maintain a high level of readiness. 

"We deploy with every AEF cycle, so we have to make sure every member is up-to-date on training requirements and always ready to deploy," said Doctor Huth. 

Another aspect of being mission-ready is maintaining an on-call alert crew. 

"The 909th Air Refueling Squadron maintains dedicated aircraft and crew members ready to assist our alert crews," said Capt. Michelle Cook, 18th AES executive officer. "We definitely cannot do our job without the 909th ARS." 

Squadrons and agencies such as the 909th ARS, Aeromedical Staging Facility, Aeromedical Evacuation Cell, Theater Patient Movement Requirement Center, Air Mobility Command, Air Terminal Operations Center and the Aeromedical Evacuation Detachment at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, play a crucial role in helping the AES complete their missions. 

"If we didn't have agencies such as these, we wouldn't be able to do our missions," said Doctor Huth. "It's important to recognize the hard work they put in for us." 

"We work with so many agencies, but I think we're doing a great job bringing everybody together and getting the job done," said Captain Cook. 

The squadron is comprised of various career fields including flight nurses, aeromedical technicians and radio operators. Various aircraft are used by the AES in completing a wide variety of missions. 

"We are universally qualified. We can fly on a KC-135, KC-10, any cargo aircraft in the U.S. inventory ... any aircraft with a 'C' in front of it," said Capt. Dallas Weills, 18th AES instructor flight nurse. "The squadron can fly and provide patient care aboard Coast Guard aircraft as well." 

Although members of the AES are qualified on all airlift and tanker aircraft, the challenge is in finding opportunities for refresher training. 

"It's difficult for us to train on other aircraft when nine times out of 10 we are working with the KC-135," said Capt. Cook. "Hopefully, we'll have more opportunities to train on other aircraft in the future." 

The 18th AES presents its members with the unique challenge of being dual-hatted.
"As nurses, we don't get the opportunity to work on the operations side," said Maj. Dana Smith, 18th AES chief nurse executive. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." 

"Being deployed as a flyer and a nurse is an honor," said Capt. Weills. "You get a better understanding of both roles and a deeper appreciation for your role as a healthcare provider. We're responsible for bringing the men and women who serve back to health."