Scott AFB deeply involved in evacuating injured soldiers to Germany

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE (KPLR) – The survival rate for injured American soldiers has soared in the just the last 25 years.  It is a fact that makes aero medical evacuation crews proud. Major Douglas Ferrette is an U.S. Air Force pilot, “I get to serve my country and protect our soldiers offer the best service we can to bring them back.”

The folks at Scott Air Force Base play a vital role in caring for and flying injured patients out of the war zone.   Brigadier general Kory Cornum said, “The increase in survival is really remarkable, as late as desert storm which is only 25 years ago if you were injured on the battlefield you had a 25 percent chance of dying, if you got to a hospital now we have less than five percent.”

Springfield Missouri native Army Corporal Toryn Green was injured in Afghanistan.  He’s experienced military medical care. Green said, “They were fantastic, everything I need, first class treatment.”

During the Vietnam War 42 days was the average time to get a wounded warrior home. Now critical cases can arrive stateside in only hours.  Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany has treated more than 70 thousand injured troops in the past 13 years. 99 percent of all battle victims have passed through there.  It’s the largest American hospital outside the U.S.  It’s only a few miles from Ramstein Air Base.  Chuck Roberts is a spokesman for the hospital, “We almost put something equivalent to an intensive care unit in the back of an aircraft.”

The environment on a military aircraft, the temperature and pressure changes, vibrations and noises  are challenging to patients and  the medical team. Staff Sgt. Louis Benitez an aero medical technician said, “Being up in altitude can affect their rate of breathing or how much oxygen they can intake and that could affect their diagnosis.”
On one flight an injured bomb dog was being cared for. The animal suffered a broken leg in the combat zone.  Officials say dogs like humans suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.  Chief Master Sgt. Saudi McVey, a medical technician said, “These dogs can recover from it if they can identify it, recognize it early and then desensitize them from what just happened to them, the event.”

The number of injured soldiers is dropping. During the height of the war a center on the Ramstein Air Base was opened to handle the overflow of patients. With the war winding down, 50 percent of the beds are not being used. They’ve cut staff there’s less of a need for them.  Staff Sgt. Brent Merry works at the center he added, “Work ourselves out of a job would be the grand plan here.”

Until then medical experts push the envelope farther, even operating on critical patients on the plane after it’s landed it primitive locations.  Lt. Col. Matthew Fehrman said, “That is currently an amazing capability that they have it is the cutting edge, that far reaching point of air medical evacuation.”

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