Saving lives through core values

  • Published
  • By By: Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do; core values engrained in every Airman to live by. Acting as a reminder of what it takes to get the mission done effectively, these values are more than just a standard to meet, it can mean the difference between life and death.

Airmen with the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron understand the importance of these values all too well. For when they are called, it means someone's life is now in their hands.

The goal for these Airmen is to load injured personnel onto an aircraft and provide care until arriving to a hospital. To provide the best treatment possible the 86th AES Airmen train on the place medical equipment on various airframes so they can spend less time on setting up and more time on patients.

"Each mission begins with knowing what type of aircraft will be used because different airframes require different medical equipment and litter configurations," said Staff Sgt. Taunee Tibbs, 86th AES technician. "From there, we decide where the patients will be placed and start to set up what we need."

Once prepared, the patients are loaded on the aircraft and secured for takeoff. While in the air, the 86th AES Airmen continually check on patients to ensure they are stable before arriving at a hospital.

"The flights can be very long at times and being at a higher altitude can really take a lot out of you," Tibbs said. "But our mission is to take care of the patients and though there are times we are hungry, stressed and exhausted we stay focused on that mission."

Being part of the 86th AES in Germany provides various opportunities to gain experience from a wide variety of missions, and although each is memorable in their own sense, there are some that stay closer to the heart than others, according to Capt. Diego Torres, 86th AES flight nurse.

"Every mission I have been a part of has been unforgettable for me because each one is so different, but there is one my mind always goes to," Torres said. "We were called to retrieve a team who encountered enemy forces and received numerous injuries. When we picked them up, we quickly strapped the wounded to litters and provided care."

"On the long flight to the hospital, I was looking after a soldier and instead of worrying about himself he would ask how he his teammate was doing, and it was that way with everyone the entire trip," Torres continued. "Each one was injured, but they cared more about the condition of their friend than themselves. Experiencing that and seeing their families waiting for them when we landed reminded me why I love what I do."

Though it may be passion for the job that brings the 86th AES Airmen to work, it is the core values guiding them throughout the day. Knowing lives are in their hands pushes them to continually strive for perfection and to sacrifice personal needs for the safety of others.