An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

109th Airlift Wing Medical Personnel Train at Local Hospital

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Lyons,
  • 109th Air Wing/Public Affairs

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. - New York Air National Guard flight nurses and medical technicians assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing are getting more hands-on training at a major nearby hospital.

St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, a 442-bed cornerstone of the regional St. Peter’s Health Partners network, is allowing the 109th’s aeromedical evacuation flight nurses and medical group technicians to work in its emergency room and intensive care unit.

A new Air Force requirement mandates 40 hours of work in those environments every two years.

The requirement is relatively easy for Active Air Force medical personnel to meet because there is usually a nearby military hospital, according to Master Sgt. Randy Welch, the 109th Operations Group training manager.

But Welch said it can be tricky to get the time in those hospital environments for Air National Guard units not near a military treatment facility.

Medical personnel who are traditional drilling Guard Airmen and work in a hospital meet the requirement doing their day-to-day job, Welch said. The issue is finding training opportunities for Guard medical personnel assigned to the wing’s 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and Medical Group who don’t work in a hospital.

Welch’s wife, who works at St. Peter’s, suggested he contact the hospital. After a few months of meetings, a base tour and a mission brief for some of the hospital staff, a training affiliation partnership was established.

Capt. Connie Anderson, a full-time Guard member assigned to the 139th Aeromedical Squadron, is a registered nurse but doesn’t get much hands-on patient care. So, she volunteered to take part in the program.

“I jumped at the chance to be the first person to pilot this program. I can tell you that it has helped me maintain the competency I need to make sure I am ready to take care of our patients in the air,” Anderson said.

Aeromedical evacuation crews and critical care transport teams are the Airmen who provide medical care to personnel evacuated from a combat or disaster zone or humanitarian crisis on an aircraft to a hospital.

Due to the nature of her job, she would only care for patients when she was deployed.

“We train constantly with mannequins and scenarios, but having hands-on patient care really makes the difference,” she said. “You get that immediate feedback true from the patient themselves.”

Airmen must complete four hours of computer-based training before starting in the hospital and work with a preceptor, an experienced clinician who supervises students during clinical rotations, during their shifts.

The preceptors the Airmen work with at St. Peter’s are employed full time at the hospital and are also drill status Guardsmen assigned to the 139th.

That can be helpful, Welch explained, because they are familiar with the military requirements and expectations of the Airmen who are there to train.

Welch said two more nurses from the 109th Medical Group will be starting the training this year.

Welch said he hopes to expand the program and have more Airmen take advantage of the opportunity to receive the training they need in their community.