Aeromedical Evacuation Day 2023
On 7 October 2023, the European Air Transport Command (EATC) organized the first aeromedical evacuation (AE) day, gathering 80 medical experts from the seven EATC member nations, as well as from the US, Denmark and multinational entities, such as AIRCOM, Joint Force Command Brunssum, EUMS, EDA, Multinational Medical Coordination Center/European Medical Command (MMCC/EMC) and MCCE. This premiere Aeromedical Evacuation day offered an insight into EATC’s aeromedical evacuation portfolio, as well as into EATC’s extensive aeromedical evacuation expertise. Medical experts from EATC, but also from Joint Force Command Brunssum, the EUMS and the MMCC/EMC, introduced their operational AE procedures and challenges. Especially for this first edition, medical experts and other military personnel could also take a look aboard several aircraft such as an Airbus A330 MRTT of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules of the Italian Air Force, a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter of the German Air Force, an Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix of the French Air Force, an Airbus A400M of the German Air Force and a Bombardier CL-600 Challenger 605 of Luxembourg Air Rescue, all equipped with special medical equipment.
It is of utmost importance to offer a high standard of medical care in operations and the assurance to bring a patient swiftly home when needed. The aeromedical evacuation (AE) of patients requires in-depth medical expertise combined with proficient knowledge of aviation related factor for the aeromedical transport. This is why EATC integrated a professional team of flight surgeons and flight nurses in the operational division: the Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre (AECC). Today AECC is widely recognised as a centre of expertise for Aeromedical Evacuation, looking back at a decade of experience. AECC is also striving for harmonisation of concepts, alignment of medical equipment and cross airworthiness certification. This offers increasing possibilities in a multilateral approach for the transportation of patients, and thereby the best use of EATC on a daily basis.
EATC and AECC strive to offer efficient AE missions. Any decision by AECC is closely coordinated with the requesting nation’s National Patient Evacuation Coordination Centre. These centres are EATC’s single national points of contact, responsible for the medical evacuation of the personnel within the national military systems. EATC has developed a specific process to execute AE missions (see graphic at page 4). Through this process the AECC team evaluates the medical condition of the patient and chooses the best suited transportation asset from EATC‘s portfolio. Together with EATC‘s tasking experts, AECC plans the complete evacuation mission and supervises all the processes, in concert with EATC’s Mission Control Centre, until the successful completion.
EATC’s nations transfer the operational authority of their assets to the EATC for air mobility missions. When it comes to AE missions, they also provide AE crew and the adapted AE equipment. This entails that EATC has access to a large portfolio of strategic and tactical assets to plan and execute AE missions. The portfolio includes dedicated AE assets ready within hours, such as Luxembourg’s contracted civilian assets (2h on alert), the German A400M (12h on alert) and MMU’s A330 MRTT (24h on alert). Moreover, EATC’s nations offer air mobility assets that can also be used for AE missions. For example, Italy provides assets that may be equipped, if needed, with special air transport isolators for the safe transport of contagious patients. Others, for instance the Dutch C-130H, can also operate as “flying intensive care units” and offer a maximum of medical treatment for the patients. The AECC manages the AE of patients on a 24/7/365 basis from all over the world. The multinational team is composed of flight surgeons and flight nurses who have long-lasting experience and know-how in aeromedical transports.
The author would like to thank the EATC PR department for this well organized event!
Text: Kris Christiaens/ETAC
Photos: Kris Christiaens