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Air Force Medical Evacuation System Makes Miracles Happen, General Says

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2006 – The Air Force's aeromedical evacuation system is unlike any system that's ever been fielded and has contributed greatly to the joint service team, the Air Force surgeon general said here today.

Since the war on terror began, the Air Force has moved more than 31,000 patients back to the U.S. for treatment and has saved countless lives, Air Force Lt. Gen. (Dr.) George Peach Taylor Jr. said at the State of the Military Health System 2006 Annual Conference.

"When you couple an expeditionary medical team with a great air evacuation system, miracles can happen," he said.

The air evacuation system requires all the military services to work together, as someone in the Navy might be evacuated by the Air Force to an Army hospital, Taylor said. The way the services cooperate during this process proves the developing theory about the effectiveness of a joint service effort, he said.

"This capability ties together a seamless interservice team," he said.

About 60 percent of deployed Air Force medical assets are working with joint activities, providing support to other U.S. services, coalition and Iraqi forces, Taylor said. In fiscal 2005, the Air Force averaged 365 surgeries and 758 procedures per month at their eight deployed facilities, he said. Of these, U.S. casualties accounted for only 20 to 25 percent of those treated, he said.

"Not only do American forces rely on these medical capabilities, but coalition forces and Iraqi security forces know the capability we bring to support them," he said. "You want to know joint, look at the medical service."

The Air Force further proved the competence of the evacuation system during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Taylor said. Because of the large number of injured people, officials had to modify their strategy and were able to move 750 to 800 people a day without setting up a typical field hospital, he said.

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Lt. Gen. (Dr.) George Peach Taylor Jr., USAF

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