Training to hit the ground running

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Courtney Richardson
  • 944th Fighter Wing

Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 944th Fighter Wing work with their active duty counterparts in the 56th Medical Group to get hands-on training with fixing medical equipment at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

Biomedical equipment technicians in the military are responsible for keeping medical equipment serviceable and configured to safety standards to ensure proper operation during daily use and emergency requirements.

“The struggle with being Reservists is not having the space or equipment accessible within the unit to train on,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Hall, 944th Aeromedical Staging Squadron BMET flight supervisor.

To ensure his Airmen receive the training required to perform their duties, here at home station and downrange, Hall reached out to the 56th MDG and worked with Master Sgt. Travis Edwards, 56th MDG Medical Logistics flight chief.

Edwards and Hall share the same feelings about being able to accomplish this training together.

“Receiving training locally is always going to be more cost effective,” Edwards said. “Taking advantage of freely given quality training saves the Air Force and the Reserve a lot of money. We can’t afford to send everyone to manufacturer training, so we will send one Airman and then they will come back and teach the rest of us, which also benefits the Reservists who come to train with us.”

This relationship has come at a pivotal time for the Reserve Citizen Airmen.

 “Our unit’s deployment window is coming up and it’s very important that we get our Airmen ready to head out the door,” Hall said. “Many of them work in hospitals in their civilian jobs but the equipment there is different from what we use here in the military.”

944th ASTS Reservists are benefiting greatly from this training relationship.

“There’s a lot of deployable equipment here that we don’t have access to back at our civilian hospital so if we do get deployed and are solely relying on our civilian experience then we would be really far behind with patient care,” said Senior Airman Gage West, 944th ASTS BMET.

The Airmen immediately recognized that they use different aspirators, ventilators, infusion devices, and blood warmers in their civilian professions, making this training invaluable. Working with the 56th allows the Reservists to have the ability to break the equipment down, learn about common errors, and how to properly repair them.

“Whenever you approach a new piece of equipment you have that nervousness because you don’t know it very well, you don’t know what it’s like inside, so being able to come in here, slow down, and take it apart to troubleshoot takes away a portion of that anxiety,” said Senior Airman David Moore, 944th ASTS BMET. “We have time to go through the manual, touch things, and gain some muscle memory.”

The training is not one-sided. The Reserve Citizen Airmen get to share their civilian knowledge with their active-duty counterparts.

“We are having a great time learning about this equipment and we also get to share about the equipment we use and how it differs from the military grade medical set-up,” Moore said. “It makes it easier to break down the equipment because we know what it’s supposed to do but the physical appearance is different. The civilian grade equipment is durable but also large, bulky, and not as portable.”

Hall and Edwards look forward to continuing this working relationship with to common goal of setting their Airmen up for success.

“I hope all of the Airmen gain confidence in their skills and learn from each other to be more effective communicators, networking to get answers and expertise from others when needed,” Edwards said. “This is vital to be successful at home and when deployed.”