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Mobile CASF training course helps get the wounded home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Corbin
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
Sheppard medical training took another step toward the future when the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility Mobile Training Course became the first mobile training course certified by both Air Education and Training Command and Air Mobility Command in February.

Wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen leaving the deployed environment all go through the CASF before boarding an aircraft to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany; or Andrew's Air Force Base, Md., for the next stage of care, and now CASF members can be trained away from Sheppard, at the right time and place.

"Certification means we can go anywhere now and teach the course," said Maj. Tammy St. Armand, instructor supervisor for the 381st Training Squadron's CASF course.

The 381st TRS course is part of the Medical Readiness training site and teaches members of all services the CASF concept of operations.

"We take doctors, nurses, medical technicians and other medical (specialties) from different places and bring them together to teach them unfamiliar equipment, aircraft safety and flight line operations," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Phillips, an instructor supervisor with the 381st TRS.

The CASF mobile training course got its first test when 14 instructors taught the course at Pacific Lifeline, a joint-service exercise held at Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range, Kauai, Hawaii.

The team spent the first week teaching Pacific Lifeline members the CASF course, a full 60 hours of training. Following the training, the instructors acted as observers offering critiques and advice during the exercise.

During the exercise, the CASF, trained by Sheppard instructors, was the only part of the 900-person exercise to "go off without a hitch," Sergeant Phillips said.

In addition to the CASF doing exceptionally well in the exercise, three of Sheppard's instructors were named top performers by 13th Air Force. Tech. Sgt. Eddie Ragland; Staff Sgt. Kevin Kiger; and Staff Sgt. Ken Steinbeck, all medical readiness course instructors with the 381st TRS, were lauded for their "above and beyond performance and dedication to the CASF."

Tech. Sgt. Corey Quinn, a CASF course instructor supervisor with the 381st TRS , said training in an exercise environment allows them more realistic training, as they go from training on aircraft mock-ups, to loading real aircraft under simulated combat conditions during the exercise.

"What we teach in the course is pretty much what happens in theater," Sergeant Phillips said.

All of this training can only improve the CASF, which has been in constant improvement since the Vietnam War.

During the Vietnam War, it took nearly 45 days for a wounded servicemember to make it home, said Major St. Armand. Now it takes 36 hours from the time they're brought into medical care to the time they arrive in the U.S. -- and even less time if they're transported to Landstuhl.

In addition, 97 percent of those who enter the medical care system arrive home safely, in part because of the work the CASF does to keep injured military members stable before and after flight.

According to Sergeant Phillips, this is where the CASF really makes a difference.

"The mission of the CASF is not just important to one part of the mission," the sergeant said. "It's important to the family members of those injured. It's important so they know their loved ones will get back home safely."

The CASF Mobile Training Course will have its next time to shine at Patriot 2008, a joint exercise at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wis. Those interested in having the CASF Mobile Training Course visit their base or exercise should contact the 381st TRS at DSN 736-3639.
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