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59 MDW on ‘ALRT’: Medics sustain patient in the air

| 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs | Dec. 13, 2016

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — The Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing sprang into action Dec. 12 when military medics transported a patient with cystic fibrosis from San Antonio to California.

The 59th Medical Wing’s Acute Lung Rescue Transport team provided medical care for a military dependent, during the four-hour flight.

Because of the patient’s condition, the team used extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, capabilities to sustain her for the duration of the move from the San Antonio Military Medical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on a C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft.

The team transferred the patient to the Ronald Reagan University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center for a lung transplant evaluation.

The medical team, including her primary physician and 59th Medical Wing ECMO physician, Air Force Maj. Jeffrey Dellavolpe, remained by her side throughout the journey. Other team members include Air Force Majs. Valerie Sams and JK House, Army Capt. Trey Baker, Air Force 2nd Lt. Andrea Perez, Air Force 1st Lt. Joseph Acquafredda, Air Force Staff Sgt. Cynthia Thurman, and Bernadette Elliott.

A unique 59th Medical Wing capability, the ECMO transport program began at Wilford Hall Medical Center in the 1990s. At the time, ECMO capabilities were only used for neonatal care. In 2011, the program expanded to include adult patients. The 59th MDW remains the Defense Department’s hub for Acute Lung Rescue Transport.