The 435th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility is poised to receive its 40,000th patient since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The number is a milestone for the CASF, which is part of a medical pipeline unknown to any other previous American conflict: one that moves an injured servicemember back stateside within 72 to 96 hours of injury. Previously, servicemembers would languish for weeks in field hospitals before being moved out of a combat zone.
More than 90 men and women at the CASF help the pipeline flow as they provide medical care and support for patients flown into Ramstein from Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas. CASF personnel then help patients prepare to depart Germany for the United States on aeromedical evacuation flights.
***image1***The CASF is also responsible for providing transport for patients between Ramstein’s flightline and nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
“This is a continuous, fluid mission,” said Maj. Paul Langevin, CASF flight commander. “We are very proud of our unit and what we are doing to serve our country and the Air Force.”
The facility receives patients daily, and operations are 24/7, supported by a total-force staff of active duty, guard and reservists, which also includes a Soldier and two Marines, who aid with processing patients.
“It’s great to be part of getting people home to receive definitive care,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Dietzen, Army liaison officer.
“This has been an awesome opportunity,” said Master Sgt. Ralph Smith, deployed here from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. “We’re part of a process that saves lives and gets people home faster.”
The CASF, originally established in one of the fitness centers at Ramstein, saw its first patients Dec. 29, 2003 and its 30,000th patient in December 2005. The 40,000th patient is expected in early to mid-February.