C-130 MedTrans

  • Published
  • By Maj. Sarah Schwennesen
  • 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs
Throughout the two-week Angel Thunder rescue exercise, the HC-130J Combat King II and the combat search and rescue medical elements who execute casualty evacuation missions, trained in providing critical care for more than 60 simulated wounded personnel en-route to better equipped medical facilities.

In the heart of the Playas Training and Research Center in the New Mexico desert, a simulated mass-casualty disaster provided training ground for coalition partners to operate in a highly-stressed environment and face more than 30 casualties, requiring a range of medical care.

After a simulated improvised explosive device detonated in a crowded market, Danish, Brazilian, Chilean and Colombian pararescuemen worked alongside their U.S. Air Force rescue counterparts to rescue exercise victims.

Once the magnitude of marketplace scenario hit the exercise participants, rescue planners sent two Brazilian and Colombian HC-130s to an airfield midway between the scene of the disaster and the deployed home station at Desert Lightning City, here so that more casualties could be transported to elevated care facilities quickly.

When the Chinook helicopters arrived, Brazilian and Colombian Air Force medics on board their C-130s practiced the craft of casualty evacuation that they are called upon to perform as part of the Rescue Triad.

"We have a doctor aboard who supervises the care that every patient is given, and we further stabilize and treat the injured as we are moved to locations with full medical facilities," said Capt. Chris Hewitt, 563rd Rescue Group Operational Support Squadron rescue flight surgeon.

In transit, the medical teams, composed of a rescue flight doctor and critical care nurses, triaged the patients, administered simulated pain medication and real intravenous treament , applied tourniquets and treated victims with various injuries, from gunshot wounds to broken bones. Upon arrival the patients were simulated transferred to ground medical personnel at the Desert Lightning City medical facility.

Mirroring the actual employment of C-130 medical missions overseas, Angel Thunder thoroughly exercised the medical teams in casualty evacuation missions.

Hewitt noted that "The United States Air Force combat search and rescue medical teams have flown over 1,000 missions since the HC-130 fever mission started in 2010, transporting U.S., allied partners and local national patients from forward surgical teams and remote medical facilities to major medical centers."

"During casualty evacuation missions to transport complicated injuries, critically wounded and mass-casualty patients, Air Force Rescue medical crews perform all aspects of en-route care from the battlefield to the trauma center, whether it's a five-minute or five-hour flight," added Hewitt.

In operations ranging from air drops, austere airfield infill and exfill operations, mid-air refueling, forward airfield refueling, to casualty evacuation for injured service members, the American, Brazilian and Colombian C-130 crews practiced their skills during Angel Thunder 13, demonstrating the versatility of the aircraft and its associated crews.

Combat King II HC-130Js participated in Angel Thunder from the 71st Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga., the 79th RQS at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., and the 102nd RQS at Gabreski Air National Guard Base, NY.

In all, 3,017 joint, total force, coalition and interagency partners were trained and 109 aircraft participated in Angel Thunder 13. Exercise participants logged more than 1,749 flight hours in 30 exercise scenarios in which approximately 295 people were saved.

Despite the massive size of the exercise, the planners ensured that the budget was as efficient as possible, staying within $1.75 million, said Brett Hartnett, Angel Thunder exercise director and technical manager.