US readies new Mideast hub for medevacs post-Afghanistan
September 18, 2013
This story has been corrected.
A new 20-bed medical facility is set to become a way station for some seriously injured U.S. personnel in the Middle East once America withdraws the bulk of its forces from Afghanistan next year.
The Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, under construction at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, will replace a smaller facility elsewhere in the region and another at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, according to 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron commander Maj. John McKinley.
The Bagram facility will likely close as U.S. forces exit the country, he said. There are 21 beds at the Bagram facility.
Commander of the 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron Lt. Col. Peter Reinhardt said the new facility — due to open Jan. 1 — is supposed to become a “hub” for aeromedical evacuation within the region after forces draw down from Afghanistan.
All combat troops are to withdraw by the end of 2014, but it has not been determined yet how many will remain in training and advisory roles.
Patients who arrive at the new facility will be stabilized and could receive intravenous medication before they fly on to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for more advanced care, Reinhardt said.
Patients with more urgent medical needs will fly straight to Landstuhl without being staged at the facility, he said.
“The main issue is control of air flow within the region to maximize efficient use,” he said.
The air base where the facility is being built is home to 8,500 airmen, including 120 medical personnel. The new medical facility will be in addition to a 10-bed medical facility on the base. Reinhardt said changes in the region as operations in support of Afghanistan wind down will potentially bring more patients who would currently be treated elsewhere.
McKinley, 44, of Tacoma, Wash said the staging facility is one of several Air Force construction projects underway in the region.
: Due to erroneous information provided by the Air Force a story mis-stated the number of beds that will be a new Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility. The facility will have 20 beds, not 22.