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Aerospace Medicine Clinic keeps flyers in the sky

Staff Sgt. Zachary Gandy, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight operations medical technician, listens to the heartbeat of Senior Airman David Rodriquez, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, Nov. 19, 2019, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The clinic provides treatment to flyers so they are able to safely perform their in-air responsibilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Staff Sgt. Zachary Gandy, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight operations medical technician, listens to the heartbeat of Senior Airman David Rodriquez, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, Nov. 19, 2019, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The clinic provides treatment to flyers so they are able to safely perform their in-air responsibilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

The Aerospace Medicine Clinic at RAF Mildenhall, England, takes care of the flyers on base. The clinic is staffed with aerospace medicine technicians, independent duty medical technicians and flight surgeons to keep Airmen who fly medically qualified to complete the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

The Aerospace Medicine Clinic at RAF Mildenhall, England, takes care of the flyers on base. The clinic is staffed with aerospace medicine technicians, independent duty medical technicians and flight surgeons to keep Airmen who fly medically qualified to complete the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Medical personnel from the Aerospace Medicine Clinic pose for a photo on an ambulance Nov. 19, 2019, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The clinic ensures flyers are medically cleared to perform their duties while in the air. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Medical personnel from the Aerospace Medicine Clinic pose for a photo on an ambulance Nov. 19, 2019, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The clinic ensures flyers are medically cleared to perform their duties while in the air. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The Aerospace Medicine Clinic plays a vital role in keeping flyers ready to complete the mission at RAF Mildenhall, England.

Officially a part of the 48th Medical Group at neighboring RAF Lakenheath, the clinic is staffed with aerospace medicine technicians, independent duty medical technicians and flight surgeons ready to meet the challenge of keeping flyers from every wing and tenant unit where they belong: in the air.

“We’re here to support the flying mission,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Gandy, 48th Aerospace Medicine Squadron flight operations medical technician. “We support those people who have flying class physicals, such as flyers or ground-based controllers.”

Pilots and other flyers are required to meet extensive medical standards due to the nature of their work.

”For folks being seen at the medical group and family health, they see you, they may give you medicine, you go to your job, you go on about your daily life,” said Staff Sgt. Franklin Miranda, 351st Air Refueling Squadron independent duty medical technician. “For flyers, if they are on any kind of medication, normally they are grounded. If they are referred to anybody, then we’re on top of the referrals, making sure they are following up. We kind of treat them like professional sports players. We need them to get back onto the field.”

The medical personnel at the clinic are mainly concerned with making sure a flyer can safely perform their duties while in the air.

“Flyers always want to fly, so they’re going to tell us that they feel good,” said Gandy. “A misconception is that you’re probably not going to be flying for a little while if you come to flight medicine. If we do ground you, we’re doing it for the safety of you and however many people that could get hurt from you crashing.”

The significant impact of keeping Airmen ready to perform their duties is not lost on the Airmen who provide medical care at the clinic.

“I’ve seen a mission canceled due to medical-related issues,” said Miranda. “Weekly, we’re checking our members’ readiness status. Flight medicine gets together and we discuss why members are down. We’re very thorough when it comes to the readiness aspect. We’re directly involved with making sure the mission is a go.”

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