Aeromedevac the Dutch Way “We Care, Anytime, Anywhere”

by Carlo KUIT & Paul KIEVIT/ Bronco Aviation

Date: Issue 115 - August 2022

While the CH-47D Chinook crew transports a patient towards a hospital as quickly as possible, the Aeromedical Evacuation Physician (AEP) and Aeromedical Evacuation Nurse (AEN) do everything they can to keep the patient alive. The helicopter acts as a flying ambulance in these cases. This is a typical scenario which can occur in a real-life situation during a deployment or as part of an evacuation of military service personnel. The annually held ORAC (Operational Readiness Aeromedevac Course) prepares participants by training for these urgent situations. 

During July 2021 this two and a half week training was organized in the Netherlands. ORAC is the Initial Rotary Wing Aeromedevac course of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) which is conducted by the Operational Health Department (Operationele Gezondheidszorg/OGZ). The OGZ is a part of the Center for Man and Aviation (CML). The OGZ consists of soldiers with a (specialist) medical background.  One of the main tasks of the OGZ consists primarily of providing Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) capacity (Air Transport for casualties). With AE, wounded soldiers and civilians are taken by helicopter to a hospital in the mission area (Forward AE) or flown back to the Netherlands by Airlift (Strategic AE). If many patients need to return to the Netherlands, they can be accommodated before the flight in a so-called Casualty Staging Unit (CSU). Supporting the ORAC course is 298 Squadron, stationed at Gilze-Rijen Airbase, of the Royal Netherlands Air Force/ Defense Helicopter Command (Koninklijke Luchtmacht/Defensie Helicopter Commando - DHC) operating the Chinook CH-47Ds and lately the new CH-47F MY CAAS version since 2021. During Rotary Aeromedical Evacuation training participants start their training on the C-130 Hercules fixed wing platform, explained Lt Col Johan, Chief Aeromedical Evacuation Medical Director of the RNLAF. “We start the AE training with the support of Austria, the United States and Canada. We buy training courses from these countries because we have limited availability in our own C-130 Hercules fleet’.