AES crew deploys to support COVID-19 patient movement

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kristian Carter
  • 433rd Airlift Wing

Approximately 20 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron mobilized to support COVID-19 patient care.

The Citizen Airmen will be assigned to the COVID-19 Aeromedical Evacuation hub at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and will deploy as needed.

The troop commander, Lt. Col. Alex Schwan, 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron chief nurse, explained the role of the Citizen Airmen.

“Aeromedical evacuation plays a critical role, which is specific to patient transport,” said Schwan. “For this tasking, it could be COVID-19 patients, or it could be wounded warriors we are transporting.”

Schwan continued, “We’re not only sending crews of flyers, but we’re also sending a ground crew, which includes communications personnel, our medical service corps officers, and our admins, who are critical to supporting the mission. They will be playing a role in the aeromedical evacuation operations team, which is the ground component that supports the aircrew movement.”

In his civilian capacity, Schwan is a primary care clinical case manager for the Veteran’s Administration at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veteran’s Hospital in San Antonio.

This crew spans a variety of backgrounds. Maj. Tracy B. Tucker, 433rd AES flight nurse, who had a break in service between her time as an active duty enlisted Airman and returning with a commission, hasn’t deployed since Desert Storm.

“This is a whole new Air Force for me,” said Tucker. “I was an electronic technician. I worked with radio equipment, video equipment, and TVs. Back in those days there were VCRs and stuff like that. It has been a long time since I deployed. I’m looking forward to it.”

When not on duty with the Reserve, Tucker is a nurse at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

The call for aeromedical support came just days after the Air Force Reserve mobilized more than 120 medical personnel across the nation to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to help with the fight against COVID-19 in New York City.