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Medical exchange enhances U.S., India partnership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Hailey R. Haux
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Airmen traveled to the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Bengaluru, India, in late June 2018 for a subject-matter expert exchange (SMEE) with the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The four-day inaugural, bilateral exchange was designed to facilitate an understanding of the medical capabilities each service brings to the table.

“We both share a common goal, which is to save as many lives in the quickest time possible, in any situation,” said Lt. Col. (Dr) William Chu, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) International Health Specialist . “This SMEE was an opportunity for us to promote medical interoperability in the realm of patient movement and aeromedical evacuation such as, moving critical patients in a resource-limited environment.”

Members from the Indian air force, navy and army, along with aerospace medicine students, nurses and pilots, were divided into teams and given different scenarios to work together and solve challenges.

During one scenario, they were asked to imagine they were in the back of an Antonov An-32, an IAF aircraft, with patients hooked up to medical equipment, when fluid began to leak in the back of the aircraft upon final approach, giving the crew less than 30 seconds to decide what needed to be done.

“These scenarios were designed to get every crew member, medical, pilot, and aircrew, to collaborate with each other to improve patient and aviation safety,” Chu said.

Practicing scenarios allow every member to work together to iron out any wrinkles before a real-world situation comes up.

“It was a great experience to learn from each other and find our strengths and weaknesses,” said Master Sgt. Chuck Lane, PACAF command/aeromedical technician flight evaluator. “Exchanges like this promote interoperability as well as trust between our two countries and I look forward to the day we can work together moving patients.”

The two nations share a vision for a partnership in which India and the U.S. can work together for the benefit of, not just the two countries, but the entire region.

“[The SMEE] reflects on the growing cooperation and coordination between our two organizations,” said Air Vice Marshall Mahendra Vikram Singh, commander of the Indian air force command hospital in Bengaluru. “The U.S. Air Force has had phenomenal experience in aeromedical evacuation and transport of critically ill or injured patients. This SMEE provides an invaluable opportunity for both our organizations to learn from each other and move forward toward the ultimate goal of interoperability in various [challenges].”

As both countries work toward a common future, this relationship will further strengthen Indo-Pacific collaborations and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.