During monthly unit training assemblies, eight different Air Force Reserve units here rely on only one squadron for medical services. The 920
Aerospace Medicine Squadron, composed of fewer than 50 Airmen, supports the medical needs of more than 700 reservists assigned to Langley.
The 920th AMDS, which officially transitioned from a flight to a squadron Feb. 29, is responsible for delivering medical readiness support for geographically separated units, or GSUs, assigned here.
Coordinating with the various squadrons can be challenging, especially when they fall under five separate wings with different medical processes, said Master Sgt. Amica Perez, 920th AMDS superintendent of aerospace medicine. Another challenge is meeting the needs of so many Reservists.
“As the population we serve has grown, we have been challenged with ensuring that we provide consistent, high quality service to all members of our Langley reserve population, sometimes with a very small cadre of personnel aligned with our unit,” said Lt. Col. Leigh Starr, unit administrator for the squadron.
When the unit was first activated in 2008, the GSU population at Langley was excited to have a local medical unit, said Starr who has been with the unit since then. Over the last eight years, the unit has been working hard to provide top-notch medical service, which they seem to be doing quite well. Starr said the unit’s customer service satisfaction rates are “outstanding” according to 98 percent of their customers surveyed, and they plan to continue this level of service.
Their customers include the 710th Combat Operations Squadron; 860th Network Operations Squadron; 71st Aerial Port Squadron; 953rd Reserve Support Squadron; 718th Intelligence Squadron; 63rd Intelligence Squadron; 42nd Intelligence Squadron; and their own members. The 920th AMDS is also a GSU, part of the 920th Rescue Wing, an Air Force Reserve pararescue wing headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
Being a GSU brings its own challenges, said 920th AMDS Commander Lt. Col. Robin McCready.
“Anything that we’d normally just reach back to our own base or wing for, we either have to rely on the base here or we try to work with the other GSUs to get support,” McCready said.
The eight GSUs rely on each other to solve problems and provide assistance. McCready said the GSU commanders gather every Friday before their monthly UTAs to discuss current issues, share ideas and coordinate support for one another. The 920th AMDS supports the GSUs by ensuring Reservists are medically fit to serve.
The unit offers a broad range of medical services including dental exams, physicals, eye exams, vaccinations, preparing samples for lab work, coordinating medical appointments and more.
To accomplish their mission, the unit must carefully balance the needs of their customers with their own training requirements. During their drill weekend each month, members spend Saturday taking care of patients and Sunday completing necessary individual or group training. Fitting all of their duties into one weekend each month requires adaptability, flexibility and teamwork, Perez said.
“It takes a team to get the mission done,” she said. “No one person can do it alone.”
The unit also reaches back to the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Patrick. McCready said the units conduct annual training and exercises together, as well as share trainers and ideas. She stressed the importance of networking within the Air Force medical family.
The unit, which was originally the 610th Aerospace Medicine Flight, has come a long way since its humble beginnings, when the first drill weekend had only three members present. In 2011, the unit had its first Health Services Inspection; the Air Force Inspection Agency team stated the unit was the best newly activated unit they had seen. In 2012 it shifted alignment from the 610th Regional Support Group in Fort Worth, Texas, to the 920th Rescue Wing. When it became a squadron earlier this year, the unit grew to accommodate the growing need for medical services.
McCready said the squadron was authorized 15 additional personnel including a flight doctor, a dentist and other medical support Airmen. She said the additional personnel help the squadron better serve their customers and manage the workload.
The future looks bright for the 920th AMDS. Upcoming changes will challenge the new squadron in positive ways, Starr said. One change is their continued growth in manpower and responsibility, while another is the squadron’s impending move to a facility located closer to the active-duty medical group.
“This will potentially enhance the efficiency of our operations further,” Starr said.
Both Starr and McCready said they have enjoyed watching the unit evolve over the years, and they feel lucky to have a great team of dedicated professionals.
“I’m just so proud,” McCready said. “I get so excited about all the great things they’re doing.”
To learn more about the 920th AMDS and 920th Rescue Wing, their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.