This is a contender for Best Medical Evacuation Ever. When a contractor at the huge U.S. science center in Antarctica got sick, Air Force pilots strapped on night-vision goggles to fly a C-17 around volcanic ash clouds to get the guy out of the frigid wasteland. And they started out in Washington State. C-17s might be big cargo planes, weighing in at 190,000 pounds. But the Air Force has gotten used to landing them on icy Antarctic runways to make resupply runs for the McMurdo science station. The temperature there right now is minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit. Imagine going from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s balmy 52 to that. That’s what a C-17 crew had to do when it got word a member of the McMurdo team needed hospitalization. Within 18 hours, they flew across the Pacific, to Christchurch, New Zealand to stage a rescue at the end of the earth — one that involved dodging ash clouds, in the dark, through whipping winds and even the threat of Antarctic earthquakes for 4600 miles. To get the contractor back to a Christchurch hospital, the C-17 pilots had to put on night-vision gear. It’s actually something the crew is used to, according to their commander. Sure enough, “by developing and refining procedures over the last 4-years we were able to successfully [complete] our mission in a dark, arctic environment,” said Lt. Col. Robert Wellington of 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. Sure, no big deal, right? Now everyone at McMurdo is going to call for Medevac when they want a checkup.
by: Spencer Ackerman--Wired.com Danger RoomAdd a comment
1/31/2011 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR HICKAM, Hawaii -- The word "bakaya" might soon be used by new fans of 15th Wing C-17s once they make their debut on an episode of New Delhi Television's show "Bigger, Higher, Faster." This word meaning "outstanding" in English was also used with gratitude to describe the Indian news crew's experience with the 15th WG and its Airmen during their visit here Jan. 25 through 27. Vishnu Som, associate editor and senior anchor of NDTV, said the show's purpose is to introduce state of the art military and civilian aircraft to its audience with a tactile approach. "It's nice to understand technology through the eyes of the user," Mr. Som said. "I could have easily done this program based on file footage and stock footage based on information that's out there." "To hear about the experiences of U.S. aviators on this aircraft is what would give this documentary an edge as it were," he said. According to Mr. Som, the close working relationship between the Indian Air Force and Pacific Air Forces along with the 15th WG's location in the region made shooting the documentary a logical choice. "We were really happy to come over here," Mr. Som said. "To my understanding, it's the Pacific Air Forces which deals with the Indian Air Force to a very large extent in terms of the deployment or the responsibilities assigned to different Air Forces within the U.S. In fact we've had exercises over here in Hawaii when we've had Indian airmen coming down and doing joint exercises at Hickam as well."
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LANDSTUHL, Germany — On a recent Friday during rounds in the intensive care unit, Air Force Dr. (Lt. Col.) Raymond Fang listened as a young resident described how he was caring for a patient injured in a roadside bomb blast four days earlier. The patient was about to be flown home. The resident towered over Fang, whose soft and impassive face was the antithesis of intimidating. Still, the resident’s hands quivered slightly. He wasn’t only facing Fang, flanked by several colleagues, but a firing squad of experience. Fang interrupted the resident only once, to ask whether the patient should stay at Landstuhl a few days longer. This would allow him to come off a ventilator before his flight to the States. “There are a lot of bad things that can happen on a flight,” Fang explained. “Sometimes keeping them on the ground in Landstuhl is better than sending them right now, and that takes a bit of judgment and experience." Few in military trauma have more judgment and experience than Fang, who for the past seven years has treated a vast number of wounded troops who arrive at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the hub for service members injured downrange. In July, Fang will leave for the Baltimore Shock Trauma Center, where he will train other Air Force medical personnel. His colleagues at Landstuhl are apprehensive about the loss of Fang’s knowledge and stewardship.
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