Aeromedical Evacuation

Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) usually refers to specialized medical transportation units in the United States Air Force. Within the U.S. Air Force, AE is coordinated by Air Mobility Command located at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. There are four active-duty AE squadrons (AES) in the USAF, but the 375th AES, Scott AFB, and the 43d AES, Pope AFB, North Carolina, are the only two located within the continental United States. The European Theater (USAFE) is served by the 86th AES at Ramstein AB, Germany, while the Pacific Theater (PACAF) is served by the 18th AES at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. The majority of AE Squadrons are made up of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units. All AE units are primarily manned by personnel from the Air Force Medical Service, but are usually aligned under an Operations Group instead of a Medical Group. Aeromedical evacuation usually involves medical transportation of active-duty military members, but in the past, AE also included a significant amount of transportation of military dependents requiring specialized care. Until recently, the U.S. Air Force had a number of specialized C-9 Nightingale aircraft dedicated to aeromedical evacuation. These aircraft have now been retired from service.

Currently, aeromedical evacuation is used to transport injured from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as to respond to humanitarian missions such as Hurricane Katrina. Units such as the 43d Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, located at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina provide tactical aeromedical evacuation for U.S. troops and regional Unified Commands using C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, and other opportune aircraft. AE flight nurses and medical technicians have the capability to fly patients on over 5 different aircraft. The primary aircraft used include the C-17, KC-135, C-21, C-130, and the KC-10. The medical crew is fully self-contained. They have their own oxygen and only need to plug in to the aircraft's electrical system. Since October 2001, more than 48,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen have been aeromedically evacuated in support of the Global War on Terror for both battle and non-battle injuries.

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