Air ambulance more than a life saver.Aerial medical evacuation and emergency services emergency services Emergency care '…services …necessary to prevent death or serious impairment of health and, because of the danger to life or health, require the use of the most accessible hospital available and equipped to furnish those services' in hazardous terrain rank among the key Army National Guard contributions to U.S. military operations This is a list of missions, operations, and projects. Missions in support of other missions are not listed independently. World War I
''See also List of military engagements of World War I
A case in point is the 126th Medical Company (Air Ambulance air ambulance Emergency medicine A helicopter or, less commonly, a fixed wing aircraft, used to evacuate a person who requires immediate medical attention that cannot be provided at his/her current location ) of the California National Guard The California National Guard is the component of the United States National Guard in the U.S. state of California. It comprises both Army and Air National Guard components. , which received a preliminary alert on Christmas Day 2002, and mobilized for operations in Afghanistan in January 2003.
The 126th flew two brand-new Sikorsky HH-60L medical evacuation Black Hawks. Company commander Maj. Bruce Balzano said he received only about 12 hours of training in the "glass cockpit" Black Hawk before his deployment.
The Medevac HH-60Ls come with multifunction displays and other advanced hardware. But the downside to employing the new helicopter is that spare parts are hard to come by.
"If one of those broke, we didn't have one on the shelf," recalled Balzano. "But the program manager did a good job of feeding those to us. We never had downtime because we didn't have a part."
The Medevac unit departed for Afghanistan with 41 people and six Black Hawks-two UH-60As, two new UH-60Ls, and the advanced HH-60Ls. Detachments ultimately based at Bagram, Kandahar and the Forward Operating Base An airfield used to support tactical operations without establishing full support facilities. The base may be used for an extended time period. Support by a main operating base will be required to provide backup support for a forward operating base. Also called FOB. Salerno covered the entire country with just two pilots, one crew chief and one medic medic: see alfalfa. per aircraft.
"Our biggest contribution over there was our medics," said Balzano. All medics in the 126th are qualified civilian emergency medical technicians e·mer·gen·cy medical technician
n. Abbr. EMT
A person trained and certified to appraise and initiate the administration of emergency care for victims of trauma or acute illness before or during transportation of victims to a health care . "The wounded we treated got care far above that available from the active units."
The 126th flew 153 medevac missions during its six-month deployment--about one pickup per flyable weather day in Afghanistan. That included several pickups under fire. The air ambulance also transferred patients, performed medical re-supply and repositioned medical personnel. A single medevac Black Hawk in mixed formations of Chinooks, Black Hawks and Apaches provided medical care in the area before troops hit the ground.
Each of the six helicopters of the 126th accumulated about 150 flight hours per month, three times their peacetime operational tempo. Readiness rates were above 90 percent, thanks to ample spares. "We didn't get the right uniforms for the first three months we were there, but fortunately they had an aviation supply center with almost anything we needed," noted Balzano.
Pilots of the 126th flew more than twice their usual hours per month in dusty high-and-hot conditions that taxed helicopters severely. Base altitude in Afghanistan is 5,000 feet above sea level. "It just gets worse from there," said Balzano.
The unit was lucky to have several pilots who graduated from the Colorado high-altitude training school. The California unit, which makes a dozen rescues a year in the Sierra Nevada mountains; also was experienced in high-altitude flying. "Being on duty every day for that period was kind of tough, in that environment," said Balzano.
The company commander flew 10.5 hours in one day. Around-the-clock operations in Afghanistan have led the 126th to require all aircrew be fully qualified on night-vision goggles goggles,
n the protective eyewear worn by dental personnel and patients during dental procedures.
see periocular leukotrichia. . Active units are required to maintain full NVG NVG Night Vision Goggles
NVG Neovascular Glaucoma
NVG New Venture Gear (auto transmission)
NVG Not Very Good
NVG New Ventures Group qualification for just 25 percent of their pilots.