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59th Medical Wing executes five missions at once

By Staff Sgt. William Blankenship | 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs | May 1, 2018

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —

The 59th Medical Wing orchestrated five air transport missions simultaneously during the week of April 16-20.

The Air Force's premier healthcare, medical education and research, and readiness wing flexed global capability by delivering expert health care to patients in multiple regions of the globe.

“We maintain a 24/7 worldwide response for the Department of Defense,” said Col. Scott Suckow, a 59th MDW administrator. “We are the only place that has this capability, specifically for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation transfers.

"These missions not only provide us reps needed for readiness currency, but are critical to our medical training mission," Suckow added. "We have the rare opportunity to not only teach our emergency transport personnel what they need to know to execute their task, but can merge the operational mission with real-world training and send them as a medical force multiplier.”

The 59th MDW has the largest medical mobility commitment in the U.S. Air Force and maintains approximately 1,250 mobility positions. At any one time, there are about 100 medics deployed worldwide, executing a joint U.S. mission in support of global operations.

“Continuous coordination and communication are key to mission success, especially multiple simultaneous missions,” said Maj. Mark Hassett, a 59th Medical Support Group administrator. “Additionally, our people know their jobs and they execute. The truly amazing thing about all of the people involved in these types of missions is they make the extraordinary look routine. There is no complacency, no resting on our laurels. They treat each and every mission with the utmost urgency and importance and it shows.”

All 59th MDW teams began at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, which serves as the wing headquarters.  Missions included a Critical Care Air Transport Team Pediatric Intensive Care Unit move from San Antonio Military Medical Center to Florida, a CCATT PICU move from Germany to Walter Reed National Medical Center, a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit move from Walter Reed to Boston, Mass., an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation move from South Korea to SAMMC, and an Aeromedical Evacuation patient redistribution mission.

These missions provide invaluable training opportunities for the 59th MDW specialty team providers and has tremendous readiness implications in preparation for theatre operations downrange. 

“For these critical care transport missions, particularly ECMO, the patients our teams are caring for are often clinging to life,” said Maj. Mark Hassett, a 59th Medical Support Group administrator. “We are proud to accomplish these types of delicate missions and feel strongly that if not us, then who? Leading the charge in critical care patient movement provides the 59th Medical Wing with the awesome responsibility of answering our nation’s call; and we are honored to do it."