Deployed Forces: Soldiers are MEDEVAC’s number one priority

| July 29, 2010 | 0 Comments

Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall & Staff Sgt. Mike Alberts
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Vernon Washington, flight medic, Forward Support Medical Evacuation Team, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 25th General Support Aviation Battalion, “Task Force Hammerhead,” 25th Infantry Division, begins checking his patient’s vital signs aboard a UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter during a MEDEVAC flight, from Harbor Gate to Mosul, Iraq, recently. (Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs)CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — A medical evacuation request was received from elements of “Task Force Spartan” that seven Soldiers had sustained critical injuries during an improvised explosive device attack, back in April. 

Five of those Soldiers required immediate medical evacuations.

Visibility was no more than 500 meters, illumination was nonexistent and dust was roaring. From the time the crew received the alert, moved to the aircraft and executed the 23-kilometer flight, the MEDEVAC team was “wheels down” at the point-of-injury 23 minutes later. 

All five Soldiers were stabilized en route to a combat support hospital and survived.

This example is just one of the everyday lifesaving heroics and challenges faced by the Forward Support MEDEVAC Teams, or FSMTs, of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 25th General Support Aviation Battalion, “TF Hammerhead,” 25th Infantry Division. 

During the unit’s yearlong deployment to Iraq, Co. C conducted 302 MEDEVAC missions and evacuated 286 patients, while operating from four strategic locations throughout U.S. Division-North.

“The FSMT’s mission is to provide MEDEVAC support on an area basis, which typically covers one brigade combat team assigned to its sector, plus whatever other supporting forces are in that area,” said Maj. Jacob Dlugosz, commander, Co. C, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB. “The MEDEVAC support provided to those ground units is essentially the evacuation of casualties, the movement and treatment of the sick or the wounded from the point-of-injury, battalion aid station, or combat support hospital to higher levels of care for the Soldier.”

MEDEVAC capability is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. 

“Having air MEDEVAC capabilities enabled our battalion to conduct full-spectrum operations throughout Northern Iraq,” said Capt. Jeff Biddulph, battalion medical operations officer, 1st Bn., 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, TF Spartan, 3rd Infantry Division. 

“Within the first 120 days (of our arrival in Iraq), 1-64 Armor encountered hostile action from indirect fire and IEDs on the battlefield, requiring multiple air MEDEVAC extraction requests for the wounded,” Biddulph explained. “All of those locations were more than one hour away from the next echelon of care by ground evacuation. 

“The MEDEVAC birds that were called into action each time, were wheels-down at the combat support hospital in a matter of minutes,” Biddulph continued, “truly a testament to Army aviation and the crew’s ability to take care of wounded warriors. 

“The Soldiers of 1-64 Armor are extremely grateful knowing the MEDEVAC birds are always ready and waiting for the call,” he said.

Although patients are classified as either urgent, routine or priority when MEDEVAC missions are identified, every team moves with purpose when alerted for evacuation, as lives depend on the flight.

“We have a 15-minute standard from the call at the scene, to ‘wheels up,’ to getting to the patient,” said Capt. Brian Smith, team leader, Co. C, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB. “It’s a no-fail mission, and I’m happy to say we’ve accomplished it and will continue to do it.”

The key to the unit’s success is preparation. Each team consistently conducts training flights, reviews and rehearses MEDEVAC procedures, and conducts aircraft maintenance, all to ensure it’s postured for a rapid response.

“You never know when that mission is going to come,” said 1st Sgt. Mark Hinkle, Co. C, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB. “It may come at 3 a.m., or it may come at lunch.”

Category: Deployed Forces, News

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