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U.S. Airmen, Sailors support life-saving mission

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- U.S. Airmen and Sailors worked together to outfit a C-17 Globemaster III with life-saving equipment at Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 13, 2017.
 

Together, the Airmen and Sailors prepared the logistics and materials for a specialized life-support omnibed system that was put into a Globemaster III for the first time. The bed was required to transport a 16-month-old burn victim from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, to Travis Air Force Base, California, where he will be transferred to a civilian hospital for treatment.

The system traditionally used by the Air Force, known as VERIFY, was too small for the child, who was also not large enough for a regular hospital bed. Airmen assigned to the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here worked with Sailors to come up with a solution that would allow the child to survive the more than 10-hour flight back to the U.S. The answer was to secure a “Giraffe” omnibed system, used in neo-natal intensive care units, into a Globemaster III.

“The child was too large for all of our normal equipment,” said 1st Lt. Kristen Hawkins, 18th AES staff duty officer. “The ‘Giraffe’ is large enough, but it’s usually used in hospitals, not aircraft.”

The “Giraffe” system had never been used on a C-17 before and required extensive planning and coordination between units across Kadena, as well as help from the Navy, to ensure everything was ready for use.

“One thing I feel is important to mention is the whole team approach,” said Lt. Col. Leslie Wood, 18th Aerospace Evacuation Squadron chief of west Pacific Air Force critical care air transport team. “Not only do we have multiple units coming together, but multiple services. We wouldn’t have been able to get this piece of equipment if the United States Naval Hospital hadn’t been willing to release it to us.”

Working with multiple units and branches can take extensive work and coordination, but saving a life adds a sense of importance and urgency.

“When you approach a mission like this, you have to think of it as one mission, one fight,” said Wood.

“You have resources in different units and services that, if you can put them together, will help accomplish your mission with optimal safety and effect.”