Air Guard Jumps to Fill Critical Care Need

The first Air National Guard Critical Care Air Transport Team deployed to Ramstein AB, Germany, for the first time earlier this month, renewing the Air Guard’s involvement in a life-saving mission and relieving strain on the active duty force. The three-member CCATT operates what is essentially an airborne intensive care unit. These teams augment regular aeromedical evacuation personnel, enabling the transfer of patients who may be temporarily stabilized, but not “stable,” from Afghanistan to military hospitals in Europe and the United States within hours of injury. Several years ago, the Air Guard was forced to suspend its involvement since the duration of deployments played havoc with private medical practice, said Brig. Gen. John Owen, ANG assistant to Air Mobility Command’s command surgeon. “We could not ask our Guardsmen to sustain that,” he told the Daily Report during the Ramstein trip. As a result Owen devised 30-day rotations that have allowed the Air Guardsmen to participate again. “When the request for volunteers went out, . . . within a week, we had almost the entire schedule filled,” said Col. Bruce Guerdin, the Florida Air Guard’s state air surgeon and the CCATT’s critical care doctor on the first rotation. “You may lose a few bucks,” but you won’t lose your practice, he explained. He added, “We’re glad to do it—we want to do it.” (For more on CCATT and the Air Guard’s contribution, continue to Truly a National Treasure)