Australia and United States work together on aeromedical interoperability

An aeromedical exercise was held recently as part of the Enhanced Air Cooperation program to enhance the partnership and interoperability between the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and United States Air Force (USAF).

Scenarios were played out mid-flight with an Aeromedical Evacuation team from No. 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (3AMES) and a USAF C-17A Globemaster from Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

The aeromedical team were given patients to load onto the aircraft, diagnose, treat, and offload to simulate a real-time aeromedical evacuation mission that may occur in situations such as Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, or on operations in a warlike environment.

Activities such as these enable the participating teams to become familiar with their different ways of operating within an aircraft.  

Wing Commander Elicia McGinniss, a RAAF officer on exchange with the USAF, said it was important to understand each other's processes to enable the two nations to work together seamlessly.

“It’s good to be able to know what to expect when we’re operating on another nation’s aircraft, and likewise it’s good for the US crew to know how we conduct our aeromedical evacuations,” she said

“While we do operate in a very similar way, there are differences and in addition to becoming familiar with each other, it’s good to observe and learn how others do things so we can ensure we’re doing best practice.”  

Lieutenant Colonel Penny Cunningham, USAF, said the activity was a good opportunity for the Australian aeromedical and United States aircrew teams to interact with one another.

“As a silent observer for the activity, I was able to sit outside the activity and see the differences and similarities between the aircrew and aeromedical team,” she said

“Our aircrew fly a lot with our own aeromedical teams, so this was great to get outside the comfort zone, and also build positive friendships and relationships.”   

The flight lasted a few hours, which gave the team a chance to run through several scenarios. 

Flight Lieutenant Karen Nicholls, from 3AMES, said it was fantastic to meet new people and develop relationships.

“After this, we’re going to feel comfortable getting onto a US aircraft in a situation where we have to conduct an aeromedical evacuation, and we’ll definitely feel welcome,” she said

“It was great to get onboard and run through some scenarios, I feel like our team got a lot out of the training.” 

In addition to the aeromedical activity, while here the USAF C-17 also took part in a control demonstration of a Forward Arming and Refuelling Point with an EA-18G Growler from No. 6 Squadron and formation flying with a C-17A Globemaster from No. 36 Squadron.

This was the second aeromedical activity held between Australia and the United States, the first being held in February 2018 during Exercise Cope North 2018 in Guam.