Aeromedical evacuation put to test during Patriot Warrior

  • Published
  • By By Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Reservists from the 403rd Wing joined other Air Force Reserve Airmen for the two-week exercise Patriot Warrior 2018 this month.

Lt. Col. Rosalind Johnson, 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, was one of those reservists who participated in the Air Force Reserve Command exercise, providing an opportunity for Reserve Citizen Airmen to train with joint and international partners in airlift, aeromedical evacuation and mobility support operations.

The exercise was one of four exercises happening under exercise Global Medic, an Army specific exercise involving joint partners with the goal of ensuring reservists from all branches can perform responsibilities in support of the reserve missions in all operational situations.

Johnson participated Aug. 8-22, at the 934th Air Reserve Station, Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minn., and served as the commander of the expeditionary AES there. Airmen from the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron also participated, but were located at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, and returned to Keesler Aug. 26.

For the AE portion of the event, Johnson provided oversight and command and control of the Aeromedical Staging Squadron, which is responsible for patient staging and critical patient care, as well as ensured all aeromedical evacuation missions were on time.

“I got the big picture overview and experienced what it’s like leading several groups of people,” she said. “We had a total of 41 personnel from 12 different units, and just like a deployment, we all came from different backgrounds, active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, so we all had to come together to get the mission accomplished.”

AE provided control over Critical Care Air Transport Teams, or CCATT, crews that flew the mission, she said, adding that they were fortunate to have two CCATTs to work with. One was from the 349th AES out of Travis AFB, California, and the other from the 81st Medical Group at Keesler AFB, Mississippi.


AE teams include a medical crew director, flight nurse and three aeromedical evacuation technicians who routinely move critically ill or injured troops after they've been stabilized or received damage-control surgery. AE personnel frequently work with Critical Care Air Transport, or CCATT, which consist of a doctor, intensive care nurse and respiratory therapist. This specialized medical team operates a portable intensive care unit.

Johnson said the Guard and Reserve conduct 88 percent of the AE mission, primarily using C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft to transport wounded warriors from the battlefield to a the next level of care, and they frequently work with other branches of service. If military personnel are wounded on the battlefield, they receive first aid care. If lifesaving surgery is required they are flown to the nearest hospital, which is where AE and CCAT plays a role, turning an aircraft into a flying ambulance and intensive care unit.

“This exercise encompassed several different agencies; we have AE incorporated with Army as well as the Navy,” she said. “They may be in a combat support hospital which is downrange, so we have to communicate with them; they also provide patient flow from the point of injury till they get to the staging facility, and that’s where we come in to pick them up and take them to the next echelon of care.”

She added that the exercise helped her in the coordination and logistics of deployed operations.

“A lot of time when you deploy and set up your own facility you don’t have everything you need right away so you have to figure out ways to get the mission done without having the conveniences of communication and transportation so we had to figure that all out once we got here,” Johnson said. “The exercise was an excellent experience that was great training for what we would experience in real-world operations and a deployed environment.”