403rd Wing aeromedical team supports COVID-19 fight

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carranza
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Approximately 10 Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 403rd Wing’s 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron mobilized to support COVID-19 relief efforts.

The primary mission of these Reservists in the AES is to provide lifesaving in-flight patient care in response for contingencies and humanitarian emergencies. 

“The 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is a unit full of professionals who are absolute experts at their jobs,” said Col. Stuart Rubio, 403rd Wing Operations Group commander. “This short-notice mobilization of our Airmen will utilize those skills and strengthen our fight against this formidable foe.”

The specialized medical teams consist of flight nurses, aeromedical evacuation technicians and support personnel. These teams can operate on a number of U.S. Air Force aircraft including the C-130H/J, C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135R Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender and the C-5 Galaxy.

“I am extremely proud of our Airmen who volunteered to answer our nation’s call for medical support,” said Lt. Col. Rosalind Johnson, 36th AES director of operations. “When Air Force Reserve Command put the call out for volunteers many of our unit members quickly raised their hand to help wherever they’re needed.”

The call for aeromedical support came just days after the Air Force Reserve mobilized more than 120 medical personnel across the nation to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to help with the fight against COVID-19 in New York City. The specific mission details of the aeromedical evacuation teams mobilizing today are still in coordination, but these Air Force Reservists can provide critical patient care at any location worldwide.

“We go wherever the patients are,” said Senior Airman Emilie Canlas, 36th AES aeromedical evacuation technician. “We provide all the same services as an (Emergency Medical Technician) does, but in the back of an aircraft. I am happy to help people in any way that I can, so being able to deploy and provide care is very exciting.”

Canlas said that being a single mother of two, a college student, and working full-time can be difficult, but during this time she has received all the support necessary to deploy.

“My family, college professors and employer have really stepped up and been really supportive of me in allowing me to perform my mission,” said Canlas.

Flight nurses and medical technicians make up the main aircrew members who fly with the sick and injured, while communications personnel, medical administrators, logistics members, and other ground personnel make sure that aircrew has the equipment and information they need to safely care for their patients during transport.

“This will be my first time ‘out the door,’ with the 36th (AES) and as a flight chief,” said Senior Master Sgt. Carlos Pabon, 36th AES cyberspace systems and operations support flight chief. “I am very excited for this new opportunity, being on a short notice deployment and having the support of my civilian employer to fulfill my role as a Reserve Citizen Airman, help tremendously.”

Pabon said he’s ready for the challenges ahead and is looking forward to providing support in any role he can assist with, whether it be senior enlisted leadership or communications roles. He also mentioned that he is grateful of his civilian employer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Mobile, Ala., for enabling him to help Americans overseas.

“The Air Force’s number one priority is to take care of Americans, Airmen, and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Johnson. “Our motto is ‘Triumph Over Adversity,’ and that personifies who we are and will always be.”

All reservists mobilized were also medically screened according to Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control guidance.

As COVID-19 response requirements for more medical personnel, aeromedical evacuation capabilities, logistics experts and other specialties grow, the Air Force Reserve was granted the authority to activate the inactive Reserve, as needed, by the President’s March 27 Executive Order. Calling up Individual Ready Reservists, or IRR, includes bringing back into service prior service members and retirees with a Reserve commitment left on their record at the time of separation or retirement.

All members of the Air Reserve Component, currently serving or in the IRR, must be prepared for mobilization at any time.

Airmen willing to volunteer for mobilization should contact their squadron commander, unit deployment manager, Readiness Integration Office Detachment, Functional Area Manager and if medical, email: HQAFRC.SG.AFRCPHEOs@us.af.mil, to self-identify their availability. In the body of the e-mail, individuals need to provide their name, rank, AFSC, assigned/attached unit, civilian email, address, phone number and they are currently involved in COVID-19 response in their civilian job.

For additional questions and answers regarding mobilization of the Select Reserve and the IRR, visit the Q&A section at www.afrc.af.mil/COVID-19 or click here.