302nd AW adds new aeromedical evacuation mission
Lt. Col. Kathleen Flarity, 302nd Airlift Wing’s newest squadron commander stands with her new team during the standup and reactivation of the 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Peterson Air Force Base on April 6, 2008. Currently the reserve recruiters are seeking applicants to join the squadron and fill the various career fields, which support the mission of the 34th AES. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. David Morton)
by Tech. Sgt. David D. Morton
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
4/18/2008 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron continued its long-standing reputation of creating history when it joined the 302nd Airlift Wing during an activation ceremony and assumption of command held on April 6. The unit has a rich and tradition-laden past that dates back nearly 50 years to its inaugural year of 1959 through serving within the 4th Air Force until it was deactivated in 1994.
Lt. Col. Kathleen Flarity will command the new squadron assigned to the 302nd Operations Group. The squadron will be manned by 31 officers and 42 enlisted members and will have the unique mission of deploying to transport critically ill and injured patients from high-risk threat areas to various echelon care environments.
"The vision for my tenure is to build a strong AES, and strengthen operational nursing currency and clinical expertise of its members," said Colonel Flarity. "Most of our energy will be aimed at assuring we are able to perform our mission in times of peace, conflict and war. Key in the clinical transformation of our AE system is the shift from rapidly transporting stable patients to moving patients requiring continuous in-flight stabilization. This expanded use puts our critical nurses and medical technicians in high demand. Our team here at the 302nd AW will make a difference."
AE teams typically consist of two nurses and three medical technicians with one of the nurses in charge of the evacuation mission. There are three active duty and 17 Reserve and Air National Guard AE squadrons in the Air Force. AE flight crews are universally qualified and familiarized to operate on various types of aircraft within the Air Force inventory.
"Today's airlift offers the advantages of speed, comfort, and safety," said Colonel Flarity. "We know that getting patients to a higher level of care quickly saves lives, limbs and improves outcomes, thereby lessoning the chances of severe or lasting effects of illness or injury.
There is no more rewarding mission than helping your fellow soldier, sailor and airman return home to family and friends after sacrificing so much for this country," said the Colonel. "That has been my experience in AE, it is the most challenging and rewarding job I've ever done. It humbles me to have cared for those heroes."
Colonel Flarity certainly has the credentials to lead the newest addition to the 302nd AW. Her experiences include serving in Riyad, Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm/Shield where she helped take care of coalition forces and wounded Iraqi soldiers, and an AE deployment in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. In addition, she served as an air evacuation liaison to the Air Force Deputy Surgeon General in Washington D.C.
The saying usually goes "behind every good man stands a good woman," but in this case, "behind every good woman stands a good man." Colonel Flarity's husband and family are behind her 100 percent and believe in her ability to succeed.
"I want her to know how proud we are of her," said Mr. Dave Reed, Colonel Flarity's husband.. "She is a true patriot and a natural leader. She will make Col. Schmitkons (302nd OG commander) proud. I guarantee it. She has the gift of bringing in the right people."
One of those individuals is Senior Master Sgt. Rick Buchanan, 34th AES senior enlisted Air Reserve Technician. Sergeant Buchanan has served 16 years in the AE career field with the Active Duty, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve; he will assist with manning and training personnel in the new squadron. "I'm thrilled to be part of the new squadron. This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity."
Sergeant Buchanan and his wife Chief Master Sgt. Deborah Buchanan, who has 14-years AE experience herself, traveled from Oklahoma City, Okla. to be part of the new squadron. "We packed up everything for the move here to be part of this," said the chief. "We're hoping to be fully-staffed soon, and be the model AE unit in the Air Force Reserve Command."
If everything goes as well as the activation and assumption of command ceremony, the new squadron should not have any problem making its mark within the command. "I think the stand-up was flawless," said Lt. Col. Ron Wilt, 302nd OG deputy commander. "We got the new squadron off on the right foot, and that will pay huge dividends in the future."
Those sentiments were echoed by Colonel Karl Schmitkons. "I think we're well on the way to establishing a healthy, thriving AE squadron," said the 302nd OG commander. "With the help of the other 302nd AW units, I look for the 34th AES to be an award winning unit."