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Grissom medics keeping wing fit to fight

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Putting the bite in the fight, Grissom’s medical team ensures that the 434th Air Refueling Wing is ready for action.

The 434th Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s mission is to continually ensure the medical readiness of the 434th Air Refueling Wing and their vision is to be the Air Force Reserve Command’s benchmark medical squadron by ensuring a fully mission capable force.

To fulfill their mission objectives Airmen juggle an intense unit training assembly every month by not only completing more than 100 preventative health assessments on Airmen around the wing, but also various profiles and other tasks that may come their way.

“We’ve got roughly 1,200 Airmen here and everyone requires a PHA to be fully mission capable,” said Maj. John Kutcka, 434th AMDS senior medical administrator. “Not to mention the Airmen that are unwell and require profiles and write-ups, which is very time consuming and difficult.”

To keep up with the demands of the wing and Air Force, AMDS is comprised of over 90 members, each of whom play their own role within the unit including physicians, nurses, medics, dentists, dental technicians, laboratory technicians, optometry, public health, bioenvironmental, administration, medical supply, repair and pharmacy.

In order to stay abreast with evolving medical advancements and to test their knowledge, Grissom medics are required to be certified yearly as any medic would be required.

“Everyone that runs the physical exams are required to be certified as emergency medical technicians, they must keep up with [mandatory Air Force training] as well as keep their medical training current,” said Kutcka.

In addition to yearly PHA’s, any injuries or medical issues sustained by Airmen are required to be reported to AMDS.

“Your physician should provide you a copy of your visit; at that point get it and bring a copy in your next UTA,” said Lt. Col. Carl Pafford, 74th Air Refueling Squadron general flight surgeon. “It should have a list of medicines, your treatment and diagnosis; that way if something’s going on that would affect deployment we can look at it and make a note of it.

“Also medications that would come up in a drug screen, we would have a record of it,” Pafford added.
AMDS will see on average 150 patients every Saturday UTA and typically have a PHA turn around in under 70 minutes to get Airmen back to the mission.

“Our job here is to take the traditional reservist and bridge between civilian health care and military medicine,” said Pafford. “We review records if you are deployable or not.

“We look to see if you have health issues and how are we able to get you better by guiding you in the right direction so you can deploy,” Pafford added.

One common misconception Pafford wanted Airmen to know is that even though it’s a medicine squadron they are unable to treat members like an active duty base would.

“It’s Air Force Reserve Command’s policy that we don’t provide clinical treatment on a UTA,” said Pafford. “UTA is here for training and readiness; AFRC has set that up in order to make sure that you receive the proper care from someone you would see on a regular basis.

“However when we become true active duty members when we go down-range it’s just like an active duty clinic; you go to get seen, we treat and we provide medicine to do that,” said Pafford. “Now if something bad were to happen and we have to send you home we coordinate all of that,” Pafford added.

Most Airmen visit AMDS during UTA weekends, however there are staff available during the week if the need arises.

“Our air reserve technician’s that are here during the week are excellent and very knowledgeable if you had any questions,” said Pafford.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.