06 April 2008

Critical Care Air Transport: Balad, Iraq to Ramstein, Germany

B-roll of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing members of Balad Air Base, Iraq. Scenes include Airmen preparing aircraft and loading patients on board a C-17 and treating them during the flight to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The first green litter you'll see holds supplies/equipment. Later a team of six Airmen carries the first patient on board the aircraft. At about the 1:52 mark you get a good look at what is required to safely transport critical patients out of theater. The patient's head is to the right of the shot. Equipment is mounted on a raised rack over his lower extremeties.

The medical equipment includes miniature versions of everything found in a typical critical care hospital environment: Complete monitoring of vital organ functions, ventilator, an electronically-controlled multi-channel infusion (IV) system, electronic wound vacs, and drains and other catheters as required by the patient's condition.

The CCATT, or Critical Care Air Transport Team, is a highly specialized medical asset experienced in the in-flight care of critically injured patients with multiple trauma, burns, and other life-threatening conditions.

An entire flight (or mission) complete with aircraft, flight crew, and CCAT Team may be put together for a single patient if his condition warrants immediate medevac to Germany.

The complex, critical nature of patients in hemodynamic (i.e., circulatory) flux requires continual stabilization, advanced care, and may even require life-saving intervention during transport.

In fact, Chuck Ziegenfuss owes his life to (among others) the CCAT Team who revived him after his heart stopped for several minutes during one of his medevac flights.

After arrival at Ramstein Air Base the patients are accompanied by the CCAT Team during the 5km drive to Landstuhl hospital. Once in the Intensive Care Unit, the CCAT Team and the ICU staff transfer the patients onto standard critical care equipment and systems.

A few days later the process is reversed as the patients are again prepared for flight, this time from Germany to the US - the last leg of a long journey home.

See also:
Aeromedical Evacuation from Balad, Iraq to Ramstein Germany

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