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76th ERQS transports injured to more capable medical facilities
TARIN KOWT, Afghanistan -- Staff Sgt. Eduardo Clemente, an independent duty medical technician with the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, prepares a local Afghan girl for the flight to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. As part of the 76th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron's mission, the crew flew the girl and her father to Bagram for medical treatment of a broken femur bone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal)
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76th ERQS transports injured to more capable medical facilities

Posted 12/21/2011   Updated 12/21/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/21/2011 - CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- In a medical community, the term "fever" can indicate an illness or an infection, but in Afghanistan, some patients need fever to survive.

Members of the 76th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, nicknamed "Fever," fly into remote combat outposts, forward operating bases and camps to retrieve wounded personnel and transport them to more advanced medical treatment facilities like those at Bagram or Kandahar airfields.

Since June 2011, the unit has flown more than 475 missions transporting nearly 600 patients. The unit regularly transports U.S. and NATO service members as well as local nations to these hospitals.

"You can compare us to an ambulance back in the U.S.," said Air Force 1st Lt. Carl Price, HC-130P Combat King co-pilot. "We can provide immediate medical treatment to injured people while traveling much faster than others can."

Using HC-130s, Fever provides a capability unlike any other in the area of responsibility.

"We are the only fixed-wing rescue unit in the AOR," said Air Force Capt. Nicholas Miller, 76th ERQS and an HC-130 pilot. "C-130s can travel much faster than helicopters and have the range to travel anywhere in Afghanistan."

Timeliness of their response also makes them unique.

"Our crews can get anywhere in the country, from the time we're notified to the time we land, in two hours or less," said Air Force Lt. Col. Peter Dominicis, 76th ERQS commander. "With our transportability, we can get a patient to a major medical facility within three hours."

Some of the patients transported by the 76th ERQS are in dire need of medical treatment, but most of them are in stable condition, said Miller, who is deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and a Cincinnati, Ohio, native.

The HC-130 also allows the squadron to land in remote areas of Afghanistan to pick up the wounded.

"Some of the landing strips we fly into are simply dirt roads running in the middle of a town," said Price, who is deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and a Virginia Beach, Va., native.

The normal runway length for fixed wing aircraft is 10,000 feet, but some of the runways the crews regularly land on are shorter than 5,000 feet long.

"At one location, the runway is about 3,400 feet long," said Air Force Capt. Adam Kawatski, HC-130 pilot. "This leaves the crew no margin for error to land safely."

Some of the more remote runways the unit travels to are not secured by a NATO military. For missions like this, the crew relies on the two loadmasters and two pararescuemen to ensure the safety of the crew, the patients and the plane.

The unit also employs a patient transfer practice called transloading, in a joint effort with other rescue squadrons.

"This allows us to coordinate a pick up and drop-off location where the helicopter unit can meet us, transfer the patient and then we fly them to the hospital," said Price.

If a mission does not allow transloading, the unit also has the unique capability to perform in-flight refueling for helicopters.

"This helps lengthen the stride of other rescue units," said Price. "By providing them more fuel, they can travel farther while still providing medical care to the patient."

In the end, the squadron members understand their capability and their impact.

"We are moving a guy who needs help to a place where he can get it," said Miller. "The first 24 hours are crucial to a patient and we're increasing their chance of survival by cutting this transportation time."

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