KFOR MedEvac team crosses borders to save lives | Article


CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo – (Left to right, back to front) U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Von Hemert, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brady Lemmon, Sgt. Christopher Buchanan, Sgt. Ashley Camper and Master Sgt. Nathaniel Moore, all MedEvac aircrew with Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard, stand in front of their UH-60 Black Hawk MedEvac helicopter at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, June 2, 2022. The team, call sign Samaritan 17, was called in to conduct a MedEvac in the mountainous region of northern Albania, where they used lifting procedures to evacuate injured patients after that their vehicle rolled down a cliff.
(Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Warren W. Wright Jr., 138th Public Affairs Detachment)


CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (June 2, 2022) – When the term MedEvac is mentioned, the thought of injured soldiers being carried on a stretcher and loaded onto Black Hawk helicopters is often the first thought that comes to mind. However, a much different story recently played out for a Kosovo Force crew who were called into the rugged landscape of the northern Albanian mountain range.

It started off as a typical, quiet Saturday morning at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, for the on-call MedEvac crew from Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment, Virginia Army National Guard. That is until a call informs them of a possible MedEvac request from an unlikely source.

“Around 12 I got a call from our battalion commander, and he just warned me and said, ‘hey, you know, be ready, there might be a MedEvac (request) coming. , “” explained Capt. Christopher Jackson, operations officer at 2nd Bn., 224th Avn. Reg. “I went ahead and called our MedEvac, let them know that a MedEvac (request might) happen, that way they can have their crews arrested and prepared.”

The triggering incident occurred earlier in the morning on May 28, 2022, when two Albanian State Police officers were injured when their vehicle rolled down a cliff.

Due to the remoteness of the incident and the specialized equipment needed to extract the injured officers, Albanian officials sent a request for assistance to KFOR, which in turn tasked Regional Command East with the mission. rescue vital.

RC-East handed the mission over to Task Force Pegasus Aviation Team, where medical evacuation coordination began.

Initial information received by Jackson indicated that the incident in Albania included “two Albanian policemen; where one was seriously injured and unconscious, (and) another was not critical, but also injured,” he said. “They were doing some kind of operation, had a car accident, rolled down the cliff and were injured. They needed a winch and a fan, that winch (operations) is something our MedEvac trains with all the time, but never actually does as a real mission.

Upon receipt of notification, the request would be forwarded, the MedEvac team on call with 1st Bn., 169 Avn. Reg., call sign Samaritan 17, began loading the necessary equipment, developing a plan of action and circling his UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

“You are always preparing for what is to come; you play through it in your mind,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brady Lemmon, the team’s captain. “It’s happened before, but it was the first time I’ve done this and to be able to perform it at the level we’ve reached, I’m very proud of that.”

When asked what he thought of conducting a MedEvac in Albania, Lemmon replied “it didn’t matter. We had a grid coordinate; we had people to help us. It could have been anywhere.

In addition to Lemmon, Samaritan 17 included Chief Warrant Officer 2 William Von Hemert, pilot; sergeant. Christopher Buchanan, team leader; Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Moore, physician; and the sergeant. Ashley Camper, doctor.

Before leaving Camp Bondsteel, the crew of Samaritan 17 had a good understanding of what they were flying towards, thanks to the information they received from the 9-line MedEvac request. A Line 9 is a military system used to relay information about the location, severity of injuries, specialized equipment needed, etc., so that MedEvac teams are as prepared as possible when responding to an emergency. incident.

However, the information they had could not prepare them for everything they would encounter when they arrived on the scene.

“We heard they were in a gorge, but we had no idea there would be 800m cliff bases all around us and you would have to be in such a narrow area,” said VonHemert. “And that’s kind of the nature of MedEvac. We train that when we arrive on the scene, we assess everything from the winds, the terrain, the entry and exit procedures. But that’s just something in the nature of MedEvac, that you’ll never know exactly until you get there.

In order to safely evacuate the injured patients, the MedEvac team had to use a winch system to lower Moore down the throat so he could safely assess the patients, hook them up to the winch, and elevate them into the helicopter. Something Moore practiced a lot on.

“Coming down, I thought I wanted to get down safely and I was very grateful when I came down and immediately thought, ‘Let’s go assess these patients and figure out the best way to get them up,'” said Moore. The priority was to get “the patient’s stable to fly, pack up safely and get them (evacuated)”.

Due to the distance Samaritan 17 had to travel and the amount of fuel they would use to circle the area while Moore prepared the patients for evacuation, the crew did not know if they would need evacuate the most critical patient before returning for the second patient after Supply. Fortunately, thanks to the speed and efficiency of their actions, Samaritan 17 was able to safely evacuate both patients simultaneously and transport them together to an Albanian military hospital.

“When we got to the hospital, it was a good transfer,” Camper said. “They were surrounded by the amount of resources they needed to optimize their results. With the fact that they could get a winch rescue, they could get intensive care on the plane, and they could walk right into the arms of the hospital, they had the maximum care they could receive every step of the way, especially for how austere an environment and the injuries they suffered there.

In order to assist with the transfer to the hospital, Moore and Camper stayed while the rest of Samaritan 17 left to refuel, ensuring a smooth transition from patients to medical personnel.

“One of the great things about medicine is that when you look at all of your damage control, resuscitation, and trauma algorithms, they’re pretty universal,” Camper said. “When we arrived at the hospital, it was good care because they were waiting for us. When we arrived, the doc was there, the nurses were there, (and) the trauma team was ready to receive. Everyone was certainly ready.

The success of the mission was attributed to the training and experience of the Samaritan 17 crew. Additionally, Lemon said the team dynamics, their communication and the quality of their collaboration ultimately enabled the extraction and safe evacuation of their patients.

“That success was (because) we all work together as a team, we all trained with what we were going to do,” he said. “There were things that we practiced on that we realized weren’t working well. We all recognized it and adjusted on the fly. I don’t know if we could work better together than we have.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, I’ve worked with a lot of organizations, and this is probably the best we’ve ever had,” Lemmon added. “It was the best I’ve ever seen. It was really amazing.


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