By Sgt. Carolyn Hawkins, 318th Press Camp HeadquartersAugust 11, 2013
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - It's a hot and sunny Monday afternoon in August at the air field on Camp Atterbury. Medics, crew members and pilots from F Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, check their equipment on the helicopters to make sure they are mission-ready for their training exercise.
Sgt. Benjamin Walters, a flight medic from F Co., 1st BN, 214th AR, describes the preparation to get a helicopter mission-ready.
"Every day we have to do daily maintenance on our helicopters, inspect everything on them from head to nose," said Walters. "We have to make sure the oil levels are all good, wires are all secure, and everything's all ready to fly. We have to make sure there's no damage to the aircraft. Basically it's just like doing PMCS (Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services) but on an aircraft on a much grander scale."
The medical equipment on board also needs to be set up for the mission.
"The way we have it set up right now," said Walters, "a helicopter can take up to six ambulatory or six litter patients. One side is strictly ambulatory, so we have room for three ambulatory patients and three litter patients on the other side. We can quickly change that depending on the mission, but usually we keep it set up that way."
Suddenly, an emergency call comes in.
Spc. Marbou "Teddy" Christman, a crew member from F Co., 1st BN, 214th AR, out of Fort Knox, Ky., describes a typical mission step-by-step.
"Whatever incident happens, civilians will report it to whoever the liaison is between the military and it goes up the chain," said Christman. "They (the liaisons) tell our operations center that they have a nine-line."
The information is given to the medics as a nine-line report, which tells them where the patients are located. It also gives them information such as their radio call signs, number of patients, severity of their injuries, whether special equipment is needed, whether the patients are ambulatory or litter, security at the pickup site, method of marking the landing zone, and whether or not there is any NBC (nuclear, biological or chemical) contamination at the site.
The pilot and the crew chief run to the helicopter as quick as possible and promptly start it up. The flight paramedics rush to determine what equipment will be needed. This exercise trains the team for real-life medical emergency evacuations.
"We're usually off the ground within seven minutes average," said Christman. "After that, we'll fly into the landing zone. We'll do a high pass to make sure everything is ok. We'll do a low pass, then we'll land." Once they arrive at the site, the flight medics pick up the patients, run them back into the helicopter and take off from the LZ. In route to the medical facility, they provide needed life-sustaining treatment.
Christman said the average time it takes to complete a mission from start-to-finish is about 30 minutes.
"We get off the ground in seven minutes, and then however long it takes us to get to the patient," said Christman. "We pick them up, put them in and we're off the ground again. So maybe 30-45 minutes if the mission is completed with us coming back here to shut down. We are well within the golden hour."
The MEDEVAC team is proud of their mission and the work that they do.
Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Clark, a helicopter pilot from the F Co., 1st BN, 214th AR, said he enjoys his job.
"The best thing about being on the MEDEVAC team is that we're actually getting people to the care that they need when they get hurt," said Clark. "We're helping to preserve the combat force and the Soldiers that have families back home. We're taking care of them for all of their families and for all of us."
"This is always something I've wanted to do since I've been in," said Walters. "I've always wanted to be a MEDEVAC medic and I've got the opportunity to do it. I love my job."
"Fox Company 1st 214th is the best MEDEVAC company in the Reserves," said Christman.