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Andersen's EMTs rescue ejected B-2 pilots

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erica Stewart
  • 13th Air Force Public Affairs
"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis,'" said John F. Kennedy, former president of the United States. "One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity; in a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity," he said, during a speech in Indianapolis on April 12, 1959.

The ambulance services unit of 36th Medical Group here embodied the former president's idea when an emergency call came in on Feb. 23 requesting emergency medical services to the flight line immediately.

Two pilots, from Whiteman AFB, Mo., were forced to eject from a B-2 Spirit before impact during their last flight from the Andersen flight line.

"This is the kind of situation that we train for," said Lt. Col. Robin Schultze, 36th Medical Operations Squadron commander and chief nurse. "Based on how our emergency medical technicians responded when the B-2 stealth bomber crashed, I am confident that our training kept our EMTs safe and minimized injury to the pilots and other emergency crews."

Not only do EMTs receive continuous on the job training, but they are also engaged in a variety of exercises and sent to the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness skills at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

"We send our medics to C-STARS to hone skills," said Colonel Shultze. "This is a shock and trauma unit training that the medics have as part of continuous education."

Mass causality training also plays a role in making emergency procedures rote in real world situations.

"Mass casualty exercises gives us the opportunity to practice for real-world situations, like the B-2 crash," Colonel Shultze said. "So that when an emergency call comes in the medics can be confident with their skills."

When the EMT on duty received the call, she and the other three member crew hopped into an ambulance and headed to the flight line.

"When we got there, all we saw was smoldering flames and a pilot lying on the ground," said Staff Sgt. Katherine Caraballo, 36th Medical Wing Group emergency medical technician. "My first thought was to take the hazards into consideration, get clearance to enter the scene to stabilize the immobile pilot."

EMTs are taught to recognize danger before entering the scene of an accident to better treat the victim.

"One of our main goals on any incident is to stay away from danger and to approach the scene with our well-being in mind," said Tech. Sgt. Melissa Lehan, 36th Medical Group Non-Commissioned officer in charge of Ambulance services. "If the medics are injured, then the patients don't get the care they need."

In this crisis situation, the danger was anticipated and the medic's training prevailed.

"Training is essential for things like this and we train continuously," Sergeant Lehan said. "A big incident like this is something that doesn't happen all the time, and could be something that you'll see once in your career, so being prepared to handle anything and everything is important."

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