RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany--The Air National Guard's new Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) mission is preparing this week for it's first transport of critically wounded personnel from Germany back to the United States, returning Guardsmen to a mission it performed early last decade.
Most recently an Active Component mission, Air Force CCATTs provide intensive-care-level treatment for wounded warriors as they move by air between combat theaters such as Iraq or Afghanistan, and even Africa, to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and then back to stateside medical facilities.
Each CCATT,comprised of a critical-care physician, respiratory technician, and a critical-care nurse, is designed to provide a higher treatment level during movement of the most critical medical cases from one medical facility to the next. Based at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, this Air Guard mission is one created to provide relief for Active Component Air Force assets and also take advantage of some mature skills and abilities that reside in the Air Guard--often honed in the civilian workplace.
Brig Gen John D. Owen, Air National Guard assistant to the command surgeon and adviser on Air Guard issues, including aeromedical evacuation, noted the Guard's ability to provide a full-time team to take a heavy burden off of the active duty, while enhancing the experience and expertise of the teams.
When we're called to duty for a weekend, 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, we are able to step up with our training and provide the same level of care," Brig Gen. Owen said. "I would argue [that] the high level [of experience] is because of the extraordinary civilian background that our Guard members have."
He also noted that the Guard is doing this with out any additional manpower or cost as well. "We're taking a trained, prominent physician, putting him through some training the active duty provides on a regular basis, and we bring him over here to fulfill this need."
Air Guardsmen participated in CCATTs early last decade, but Air Guard missions began to lean toward a variety of homeland and domestic response missions, which pulled it away from CCATTs. The operations tempo of the active Air Force, however, along with the untapped experience of medical personnel within the Air Guard opened the door to the resurgence of the CCATT mission in the Air Guard.
Editor Christopher Prawdzik is traveling with other media this week to observe the relaunch of the Air Guard's CCATT mission in Germany.