535 AS steps up for air evac mission

Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman
15th Wing Public Affairs

Members from the 535th Airlift Squadron saved a life when they set off from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for an aeromedical evacuation mission out of Pago Pago, American Samoa, Sept. 22.

The call for an aero-medical evacuation came when medical professionals decided an infant needed to be transferred from Pago Pago to Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC).

“We received the call on Sept. 21, requesting an aeromedical evacuation for an infant,” said 1st Lt Derek Demyanek, 535 AS C-17 Globemaster III pilot. “Normally, requests are handled by the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES) from Kadena AB, Japan. Their unit’s mission supports medical operations that occur within the Pacific theater.”

The 18th AES normally utilize the Kadena based KC135 Stratotankers for their aeromedical evacuation missions. However, the KC-135s would not have been able to land on the Pago Pago airfield.

“The KC135 requires loading equipment that Pago Pago didn’t have,” said Demyanek. “The C-17 is a flexible aircraft that didn’t require any additional equipment for this mission.”

One of the more challenging aspects for the 535 AS was putting together the crew for the mission.

“We’re not normally postured for these types of operations,” said Capt. Lucas Coston, 535 AS C-17 Globemaster III pilot. “Normal flight time for us is typically around eight in the morning. When the call came in, several people were still flying and wouldn’t have been able to get the allotted crew rest they needed.”

Within an hour of the request, the 535 AS was able to find enough people to crew the aeromedical evacuation mission. On Friday, the air crew was joined by a team of medical professionals, and they took off to Pago Pago.

“The back of the C-17 is well outfitted for an aeromedical evacuation mission,” Coston said . ” The medical team brought their own equipment and were able to secure the carrier, power it, and hook up to the oxygen supply.”

The 18-hour mission was completed with the infant successfully making it to TAMC.

“When you’re dealing with an aeromedical evacuation mission like this, everything has to happen a little bit faster and smoother than normal,” Coston said. “Everyone recognized that and worked together to ensure the mission was successful.”

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Category: News