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US Air Force Demos 24/7 Medical Transport in Japan

The US Air Force has demonstrated a 24/7 medical airlift operation in Japan using a UH-1N Huey medium helicopter to expand patient transfer availability across the region.

The activity validated the transport capability of the 459th Airlift Squadron (AS), stationed at the Yokota Air Base, between the installation’s 374th Medical Group (MDG) and additional facilities.

Both the 459th AS and 374th MDG have been facilitating patient transfer missions for the air force since 2019. Currently, the team’s airlift operation is limited to transferring members from Yokota.

From right, U.S Air Force Maj. Ahryll Roberts, 374th Medical Group education and training flight commander, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jasmin Garcia, 374th MDG medical technician, prepare to board a UH-1N Huey helicopter during a patient transport drill at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Dec. 18, 2023. Since 2019, the 459th Airlift Squadron and 374th MDG have successfully completed 14 medical transport missions, reducing patient travel time by over two hours for each leg of the journey.
Medical Group prepares to board a UH-1N Huey helicopter during a patient transport drill at Yokota Air Base. Photo: Senior Airman Manuel G. Zamora/US Air Force

‘Extending Access’

According to the air force, the integrated mission will enhance the 459th AS’ functionality to sustain medical care for US warfighters stationed in Japan.

Before deployment to Yokota, each 459th AS personnel undertakes rigorous training at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and Fort Novosel in Alaska.

“By establishing a 24/7 response capability, the 374th MDG is extending access to time, the most critical resource in any medical situation,” 459th AS commander Lt. Col. Max Walters stated.

“It’s a great thing to provide, especially overseas where access to host-nation care sometimes has limitations.”

Boosting Readiness

The air force wrote that the 24/7 readiness posture will enable the UH-1N aircrews to further offer support during vital scenarios such as contingencies and natural disasters.

“Working closely with our 374th MDG has been an incredible experience,” 459th AS UH-1N Pilot Capt. Casey Guardia said.

“Their effort to involve medics in our medical transport service and familiarize them with helicopter operations is commendable. This expansion enables us to assist the base and local community and showcase the exceptional capabilities of the Huey.”

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