315th AES, Royal Air Force build key international partnerships in immersive, hands-on live experience training

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  • By Capt. Marquel Coaxum
U.S. Air Force aeromedical evacuation team members from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, took a hop across "The Pond" for hands-on immersion training with its Royal Air Force counterparts at RAF Brize Norton, England, June 9, 2022.

The 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, the U.S. Air Force’s premier global aeromedical response unit with the 315th Airlift Wing at JB Charleston, worked with the 4626 Squadron, the RAF’s equivalent aeromedical evacuation unit, for the four-day training that delivered both important classroom and live experiences aeromedical training for the units.

“In a deployed location both our teams may have the opportunity to work alongside one another, so it’s key that the services we conduct coalition operations with understand how we operate, as well as our teams understanding the same about them,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Murray, the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron’s chief nurse, who headed several sections of the training. “This builds critical cross-nation interoperability skills and gives us the ability to understand what each of our teams bring to the fight, bringing an elevated understanding of how we can be most effective in accomplishing the mission as a combined medical response force.”

On departure from Joint Base Charleston, on the way to RAF Brize Norton, the 315th AES wasted no time getting into action, running a fast-paced scenario once the C-17 Globemaster III reached cruising altitude. The scenario included in-flight patient assessment and treatment on both a live patient and a simulation mannequin.

315th AES aeromedical crew member U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Storm Ford, was one of the primary in-flight medical providers during the scenario on this initial leg of the mission.

“In-flight scenarios accomplish several things. They allow us the opportunity to hone our skills as medical providers on diverse patient conditions and outcomes, and to see how the physical pressures of flight affect a patient and the care we can provide.” Ford said. “We have to be able to react fast and effectively to make sure we’re meeting our patient’s needs so when we are faced with real-time, live missions, we can be ready to operate efficiently, bringing the highest levels of patient care anywhere to anyone who needs us around the globe.”

After arrival at RAF Brize Norton, the 315th AES completed immersion sessions hearing from the 4626 Squadron about RAF medical operations and what was ahead for the training events.

After a day of classroom instruction, training went full-throttle with several live small-scale air operations exercises on both a ground-stationed static U.S. Air Force C-17 and on a full mockup fuselage trainer of the RAF’s newest and most advanced mobility aircraft, the A400M Atlas.

The sessions included litter building, patient transport technique instruction, critical patient treatment, and even a simulated ground aircraft fire evacuation, complete with fake smoke, aboard the A400M.

Royal Air Force Cpl. Mashel Banks, one of the RAF 4626 Squadron medical specialists, was one of the first to go hands on during the sessions and provided insight on what this experience meant to her.

“It’s absolutely amazing to have this experience, because familiarity makes it easy when you come together as one,” she said. “Having been in the Air Force for five years, this is my first time actually seeing the inside of an aircraft. So it’s amazing to come see the setup, learn about the build of the aircraft. It’s really good.”

“This is about seeing how you work, because it’s a lot similar to what we do, and to naturally build the relationship we have ongoing, and to keep it going into the future,” Banks said. “So it’s absolutely a pleasure to have you with us and to work with you.”

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Maria Wesloh, an aeromedical evacuation technician examiner with the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at JB Charleston, shared a similar experience at the conclusion of the four-day interoperability training.

Wesloh noted that being able to train on RAF aircraft made all the difference in how much she took away from the four-day event. She said that with differences in things such as litter straps or how the RAF loads its aircraft, the training brought new experiences and knowledge to take home.

“This was very important, because we will likely integrate with our United Kingdom counterparts in the future in support of missions around the world,” Wesloh said. “The interoperability development between our units was key. When we consider how we’ll operate together in deployed environments globally, it’s so important to cultivate and grow these types of relationships.”