107th AW provides medical evacuation for injured Haitians
By Staff Sgt. Peter Dean, 107th Airlift Wing
/ Published February 07, 2010
Niagara Falls, New York -- More than a month has pasted since the devastating 7.0 earth quake hit Port-au-Prince, Haiti leaving hundreds of thousands of people dead and many more homeless and hungry. Within days after the quake, the 107th Airlift Wing responded with aircrews and aircraft answering the call for transportation of critical supplies, equipment and personnel into and evacuees out of Haiti.
The latest 107th AW mission Feb. 5, originating out of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. called for a 9:30 a.m. show time for the 10 man crew. Running a 10 man crew enables pilots, navigators, flight engineers and load masters to rotate allowing for a 24 hour continuous operation. After being shuttled out to the aircraft load masters Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Obrochta and Senior Airman Laura Kruse meticulously complete their check list, preparing the tail end of the C-130 for flight. While flight engineers Tech Sgts. Brian Waite and Alan Frankosky checked the mechanical readiness of the craft. If any deficiencies were found crew chief Staff Sgt. Joe Hodkin was on hand to make any necessary repair.
With thumbs up from all, the C-130 was deemed mission ready. Today's mission was to transport critically injured Haitian to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., for life saving care. This is no easy feat, for it takes a complete reconfiguration of the cargo area of the C-130 to safely and securely transport injured personnel. Members of the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, MacDill, AFB put their expertise to work turning the tail end of the craft into a flying medical transport center. On board were all the necessary supplies, equipment and personnel to ensure that the precious cargo arrives safe and sound.
While in flight two medical teams the 45th AES along with the 81st Medical Group, Keesler Air Force Base, Ms., ran oxygen lines, hung bandage cases and set up monitors ensuring that they were both ready to receive the injured. Shortly after touchdown in Port-au-Prince, military medical teams already on sight transported the injured to the awaiting teams aboard Niagara's C-130. Once on board the teams got to work ensuring that the patients were fit to travel the five-hour-long flight to Dobbins ARB. Teams hooked up monitors, IV's and redressed injuries as needed.
Throughout the flight both teams kept a watchful eye on all patients aboard. Ten in total, two U.S. military that sustained injuries in support of Operation Unified Relief, a mother with her 2-year-old daughter and a young female all of which were able to board the plane under their own power. The remaining five sustained injuries such as limb fractures, head wounds and the worst was a double amputee that had lost both legs due to injuries he incurred during the earthquake.
"It feels good," said Master Sgt. Niki Rozsypal, 45th AES. "We made a difference in their lives today, they will get the care that they desperately need," she added.
Upon arrival at Dobbins AFB the plane along with its injured patients were greeted by an entourage of more than 100 medical personnel donned in masks, goggles and protective wear, U.S. Customs and numerous other military personnel. After Customs cleared the plane the patients were loaded one at a time into prearranged civilian ambulances destine for a predetermined civilian hospital where their care will continue.
"Welcome to America," said Senior Airman Kruse to one of the patients upon touchdown. "I don't know if she understood what I said, but she did have a smile on her face," she added.
With the passing of more than 14 hours and the day's mission complete 107th AW, C-130 pilots Col. Bob Kilgore and Maj. Greg Miller rallied to get the crew home, well their temporary home at MacDill for the mandated crew rest.
"Great job today guys," said Maj. Miller. "You should be proud of yourself," he added during the post flight briefing.