624th ASTS and 15th MDG train on ERPSS exercise

  • Published
  • By James Bowman
  • 624th Regional Support Group Exercise

The 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron and the 15th Medical Group worked together during an En Route Patient Staging System training event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Nov. 4, 2023.

ERPSS is a flexible, modular patient staging system that provides temporary capability during humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, and peace and wartime situations throughout the patient movement process. The capabilities of an ERPSS are patient reception, complex medical-surgical nursing care and limited emergent intervention. Patients are prepared medically and administratively for movement and a safe aeromedical flight during this time.

“ERPSS training enables us to understand better the medical challenges we face as aerospace medical service specialists and how to interact in different environments,” said Tech. Sgt. Matilde Arocena, 624th ASTS noncommissioned officer in charge of infection control. “It provides real scenarios which put everyone on the same page, reducing mistakes and becoming more efficient at our skills and responsibilities.”

Patients requiring extensive medical treatment or critical nursing care should remain in a Medical Treatment Facility until arrangements are made to transfer to an aircraft. An MTF is designated to provide stabilization for casualties during transition.

After patients are moved to an aircraft, a Critical Care Air Transport Team consisting of three people (critical care physician, critical care nurse and respiratory therapist) takes over. The aircraft becomes a flying intensive care unit. The CCATT provides an advanced medical capability for critically ill or injured patients needing full-time care. The team must be effective communicators, know how to work in stressful situations and be able to focus on the patient’s needs.

“Caring for patients is what I do. Knowing and seeing the changes in medically compromised patients is like a puzzle, what is missing to get them better or to improve their outcome,” said Maj. Deborah “Keppi” Lichota, 624th ASTS critical care nurse. “I look at it as if I am one of the pieces to complete the puzzle and get the patient to improve as well as move them to a higher level of care.”

ERPSS and CCATT training both emphasize teamwork in caring for and moving patients and service members.