Ramstein sees more patients since ‘surge’
July 23, 2007
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The “surge” in U.S. troops in Iraq has resulted in an increase in patients passing through this base.
Airmen have been working extra hours to accommodate the increase in patients, said Maj. Paul Langevin, who commands the 85 people who work at the facility. The staff includes active- duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel. They work around the clock to transport patients and prepare them for flights.
May and June stand among the busiest months ever for airmen who help transport and care for wounded servicemembers coming from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Air Force figures.
June saw the highest number of patient movements since April 2004, when U.S. forces conducted a major offensive on the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
In May, the airmen conducted 1,545 “patient movements.” In June, the facility saw 1,564 movements.
Ramstein Air Base is the stopping point for wounded servicemembers who need additional medical attention from either Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany or other U.S. hospitals.
The 435th Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, or CASF, on base serves as a holding area for patients waiting to get a flight to another hospital.
Langevin said he believes the increase in patients is due to the higher number of troops in Iraq.
“We think there is a direct correlation with the ‘surge,’” Langevin said.
The facility tracks each time the facility moves a patient, so one patient could be counted as two “patient movements.”
For example, a wounded Marine from Iraq could fly into Ramstein, be moved to Landstuhl and then later transferred back to Ramstein for the next flight to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Only two other months have been higher than May and June, he said. The facility saw the greatest number of patients in April and May 2003. April 2004, when military forces converged on Fallujah, was the second busiest time, Langevin said. He could not provide statistics for those months.
Since 2003, the facility has received 43,807 patients from Afghanistan and Iraq. Of those, 9,548 had battle injuries. Airmen have conducted nearly 70,000 patient movements.