Ramstein AE team makes nonstop dash to save a life

Capt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

An improvised explosive device  detonated in Iraq and left a troop with life-threatening injuries Feb. 7. The troop’s only hope of survival was to receive a special neurological procedure, available at only a few hospitals in the world.

***image1***The U.S. Air Force said, “We can do it.” An aeromedical evacuation team from the 791st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, stationed at Ramstein, was alerted and quickly arrived in Balad Air Base, Iraq.

The urgent patient, and other patients, were loaded onto a Mississippi Air National Guard  C-17 Globemaster aircraft and departed for the U.S. A KC-135 from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, refueled the plane, which landed at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The urgent patient was transported to the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland. 

The aeromedical evacuation team included Capt. Michael Sweet, Tech. Sgt. Brian Mims and Staff Sgt. Phillip Hines, all assigned to the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Ramstein.

“This was the first time we had been on a flight that flew directly from Iraq to the States,” said Captain Sweet, a flight nurse who averages three aeromedical evacuation missions each month.

The 25-hour crew day made for a long but rewarding mission.

“It was great to know we took part in this flight and helped get a patient to the medical care needed to give them a fighting chance,” said Sergeant Hines.
As of press time, the urgent patient was listed in serious condition.

The 791st EAES and 86th AES personnel are trained to fly with injured troops and assist with their medical needs.

“We just try to keep them as comfortable as possible,” said Sergeant Hines.

“The ability to move patients across the world nonstop is an excellent example of the U.S. Air Force’s capabilities and demonstrates to what lengths the U.S. will go to save a life,” said Brig. Gen. Rich Johnston, KMC and 86th Airlift Wing commander. “Of course, these capabilities wouldn’t be possible without incredible Airmen, like the crew aboard the Feb. 7 flight, who make it happen.”