News>Part-Time Service, Full-Time Commitment: Medics and Flyers
Story at a Glance
Air Force Reservists train to serve alongside active duty counterparts Balance between workload and additional training is essential Training often involves more than UTAs and annual tour
Aircrew for the 815th Airlift Squadron “Flying Jennies” pose in front of one of the squadron's C-130J-30 aircraft. Citizen Airmen from the Jennies train throughout the year to maintain their readiness for deployment in support of global contingencies. From left to right: Master Sgt. Dave Cooper, 815th AS loadmaster; Capts. Eric Chapman and Elissa Granderson, 815th AS pilots; Master Sgt. Josh Stanton, 815th AS loadmaster. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
Senior Airman Laborian Jones, 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron medical technician, prepares to take a blood sample from Master Sgt. Sonya Smith, 403rd ASTS health services management technician. The squadron has a variety of different medical technicians, nurses and physicians who train throughout the year to remain certified in their Air Force career specialties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
403rd Wing Public Affairs
4/2/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- This is part two of four in a series on how Air Force Reservists from various career fields train throughout the year to serve their country.
For Air Force Reservists, training and serving their nation often involves more than just the one weekend a month and 15 annual tour days a year. Members of many career fields often go the extra mile (or in some cases, fly a few hundred extra miles) to help fulfill their training requirements.
Two other squadrons within the 403rd Wing here have career fields that make it necessary for Reservists to complete their training outside of their normal duty days: the 403rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 815th Airlift Squadron "Flying Jennies."
Maj. Eduardo Medina, 403rd ASTS chief of the Education/Training/Readiness Committee, said the ASTS is comprised of many different medical careers, such as nurses, physicians and various medical technicians.
"The Education/Training/Readiness Committee puts together a comprehensive training plan for the year that takes into consideration all the different (ASTS career fields)," said Major Medina. "As things come up throughout the year, the committee will alter the schedule so we can continue to accomplish our training goals, but still meet any other new objectives."
During a typical unit training assembly Saturday, Major Medina said most ASTS members work at Keesler Medical Center, performing immunizations and medical tests on other 403rd Citizen Airmen to ensure they're physically able to perform their Reserve jobs. Sundays normally include other training, such as ancillary and computer-based training.
The major noted not all training can be done at the unit level, however.
"We might not have the resources or equipment available for them to train here," he said. "In those cases, we need to outsource and send our people to places where they can get their required training."
In other cases, some specialists need to maintain their certification requirements through their civilian jobs, mainly because the ASTS might not have the credentials to teach some recertification classes. For example, emergency medical technicians need to recertify for their National Registry Certification every two years, while physicians and nurses have to meet various continuing education hours for their respective specialties.
This can be accomplished through civilian medical training courses.
For members of the 815th Flying Jennies, much of their additional training requirements are performed during UTAs, while most of their flight training with the C-130J-30 cargo aircraft occurs during the week, said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Helm, 815th AS loadmaster and the non-commissioned officer in charge of training.
Sergeant Helm said much of the squadron's training involves both day and night practice missions, such as combat offloads and air delivering heavy vehicles, supplies, equipment and troops. Many of these missions take place locally at the Stennis Space Center airport or the range at Camp Shelby, Miss. Other cross-country training taking place around the U.S. allows the Jennies to practice over terrain and in environmental conditions they can't find locally.
Lt. Col. Frank Poukner, 815th AS assistant director of operations, said that since many of the traditional reservists are local, and since many of the pilots fly for commercial airlines, these Citizen Airmen can perform much of their flight training when they are not working or flying for their civilian jobs.
In addition to drill weekends and annual tours, Colonel Poukner said aviators also have 48 training periods allotted to them throughout the year. These four-hour blocks of time are used for flight training during the week.
Whether it's additional certification through a civilian job or extra duty days from the military, Citizen Airmen can still get the training they need to accomplish the mission.
"These additional training periods are essential," Colonel Poukner said. "We simply could not meet all of our training requirements just by performing UTAs and 15 annual tour days a year."