Kandahar Air Wing achieves medical evacuation milestone
A combined team of Afghan air force and coalition members conducted the first dedicated Mi-17 medical evacuation mission on April 11th. The team moved an Afghan National Army officer, who incurred a compound leg fracture, from Camp Bastion back to Kandahar, writes Capt Jamie Humphries, 438th AEW PA.
The planning for the inaugural mission began one month ago when Afghan air force Maj. Gen. Abdul Raziq Sherzai, the Afghan Kandahar Air Wing commander, set aside each Monday as a day dedicated for medical evacuation. Since then, medical evacuation crews have waited on alert for the call from the two most likely locations of Camp Bastion, just northwest of Lashkar Gah, or Forward Operating Base Tarin Kowt.
“We later got confirmation of the tasking from Regional Command Southwest that a patient needed transport,” said Maj. Charla Quayle, from the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron. “The Mi-17’s were then prepped with a three-litter stanchion and medical equipment before takeoff.”
The ANA officer incurred the fracture several months earlier and the healing process had not proceeded well, requiring a transfer to higher-level care in Kandahar. The transfer was the first test of the medics’ newly established communication system and also provided Afghan flight medics an opportunity to demonstrate their clinical capabilities. The mission provided the opportunity to treat a patient with a possible high level of injuries.
“The mission was flown by me, Tech. Sgt. Steve Guillen and Fazal, our Afghan flight medic,” Quayle said. “Our ‘bird’ had an American pilot and an Afghan pilot, and we also had an Afghan flight engineer, crew chief and translator. The other Mi-17 that flew the mission had Lithuanian and Afghan crew on it.”
Not only were the advisors happy to successfully complete the mission, Fazal was also excited by the opportunity to help accomplish a “first” for Afghanistan.
“I am proud to be able to do my job and use my medical skills on a real mission,” Fazal said.
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