RAF Mildenhall firefighters, RAF Lakenheath medics working together
By Senior Airman Justine Rho, 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 16, 2016
RAF Mildenhall, England - --
Team Mildenhall personnel receive medical care from the 48th Medical Group located on their neighboring base at RAF Lakenheath. The tanker base doesn’t have a medical center, which creates a unique situation for the emergency response team at the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department.
To alleviate the challenges from not having an on-base emergency room, Airmen from the 48th Medical Operations Squadron Ambulance Services Flight are assigned to the 100th CES. In addition to mission support, the bases’ collaboration creates a team experience for both firemen and medics.
“We are part of the 48th MDOS in the emergency services department and we have four medical technicians currently assigned to the RAF Mildenhall Fire Department,” said Airman 1st Class Andrew Giles, 48th MDOS emergency services technician. “As part of Air Force Smart Operation for the 21st Century, AFSO21, a decision to have two medics permanently attached to the station reduces our response time from 20 minutes down to five minutes.”
The 48-hour rotations enable the response team to provide medical support at any hour of the day. This increases the coverage and capabilities to respond to 911 calls, and both in-flight or ground-based aircraft crash emergencies.
“We provide medical coverage primarily for RAF Mildenhall, however, we have the capability of covering our tri-base area to include RAF Lakenheath and RAF Feltwell. This capability allows us to service approximately 35,000 individuals,” Giles said. “To augment our capacity to help those in need, we work very closely with the National Health Service to transfer patients in need of a higher echelon of care. We assist the NHS to transfer more than 110 patients to neighboring local facilities to provide patients with the best care possible.”
The Airmen are able to reduce their emergency response time because of dynamic training adapted to their area of coverage and individual skills.
“Twice a month we coordinate medical scenarios at each base, each month having a specific topic,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathon Powell, 48th MDOS emergency services technician. “Scenarios are based off of emergency medical technician protocols and our scope of practice, which are then sent to the simulation center on RAF Lakenheath. The equipment we use can vary from a real-life person acting as a patient or a highly advanced manikin capable of breathing, talking, blinking and multiple other senses. These scenarios help us stay fresh on our protocols and medical skills.”
Staged emergency scenarios in the tri-base area aid in the familiarization of those locations. Additionally, the scenarios create fluency between the medics and firemen skill sets.
“A lot of equipment is being handled during those situations and it’s best for us to be familiar with the set up,” Powell said. “It is imperative to do these scenarios together to build that smooth work atmosphere that allows us to communicate better and learn to trust each other. For every medical 911 call we receive, the firefighters are right there by our side to assist us with everything we need.”
From a firefighter’s perspective, the combined training allows each emergency response specialist to hone in on their line of work and learn how to better assist each other.
“Having medics on scene means that better care will be provided for patients,” explained Staff Sgt. David Jeghers, 100th CES fire protection crew chief. “While it’s beneficial for firemen to get hands-on training with medical equipment, ultimately in a real world situation the medics will provide care at a higher emergency response level and execute patient transportation.”
The medics see this collaboration as a great opportunity for career development and appreciate the fellowship between units. For Airman, hoping to cross train as a pararescueman, patient care is a priority in his career endeavors.
“It has greatly expanded my view of the bigger picture when it comes to first responders and has allowed me to become a better medic,” Giles said. “I love what we are able to do, and the camaraderie we’ve built provides for a great work environment.”