AUAB power projection: En Route Patient Staging Facility

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Patients across U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility who require various degrees of medical treatment often find their way to Al Udeid, where they are met with open arms from Airmen of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron’s En Route Patient Staging Facility.

Medics from the ERPS combine medicine with mobility, working at both the base clinic and flightline to ensure safe transport and care is provided to patients waiting for transportation to locations that can provide the appropriate level of care.

“We accept in-transit patients from the aircraft, we take care of them here, and then it’s our responsibility to get them to their next aircraft, their next destination, and even their final destination,” said Lt. Col. Reagan Ramos, 379th EMDSS ERPS Facility flight commander. “So whatever a medical facility does, whatever an air terminal does, that’s what we do in combination.”

As patients arrive, ERPS medical technicians and nurses prepare themselves to provide not only medical care, but expedited immigration services to ensure patients get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.

“We do everything from patient care, to … the things that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does, to making sure they’re administratively taken care of,” said Ramos. “We get them through customs, through immigrations, and all that’s important not only in their arrival, but getting them to their next facility.”

Ramos said Al Udeid’s medical clinic is considered a Level-3 facility, which means patients can receive “definitive” patient treatment for an injury or medical illness. This includes minor battle and orthopedic injuries as well as some mental health issues. However, patients who require specialized treatment, such as complex surgery, are transported to a Level-4 facility.

“We’ll hold patients for 24 to 72 hours and after that we’ll bring them back out to the flightline to get them on an outbound flight,” said Tech. Sgt. Zachary Barnhill, 379th EMDSS ERPS shift supervisor. “We’re essentially a hub for the AOR.”

For Barnhill, giving his patients some level of comfort while quickly transiting them to the appropriate level of care is a satisfying part of his job.

“The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the patients off,” said Barnhill. “We just ensure that when we send them … there are no questions. We have a very thorough checklist and when they get on that plane, they know where they’re going, what the next step is, who they’re going to be in contact with … it’s just a whole different look on the patients face when they leave versus when they get here.”

*This article is part of an ongoing “AUAB Power Projection” series, focusing on units that forward deploy from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in support of U.S. Air Forces Central Command objectives in the region.