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34th AES marks 10 years supporting aeromedical evacuations

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Ten years ago, the 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron brought a new, unique mission to the 302nd Airlift Wing.

"When we go out the door there's a crew of two nurses and three medical technicians and what we do is turn any cargo plane the Air Force has into a flying hospital," said Senior Airman Cristina Tust, a 34th AES aeromedical evacuation technician who has been with the squadron for four years. 

During deployment and humanitarian operations, Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 34th AES provide critical medical care to ill and injured patients.

"Once a patient enters the aeromedical evacuation system there's about a 98 percent survivability rate," said Lt. Col. Kimberly MacPherson, the 34th AES director of operations who has been with the squadron for three years and a flight nurse for 18 years.

The 34th AES is 1 of 18 reserve squadrons making up about 67 percent of Air Force aeromedical evacuation mission.

"We are the youngest squadron out of 31 Air Force squadrons and we have a lot of young, enthusiastic people who come here with a smile on their face, who want to learn and train," said MacPherson. "Our goal is to bring people into our squadron and make sure they are properly trained both in the plane and clinically so when we deploy they can take care of our wounded warriors."

With a squadron made up of mostly traditional reservists, the Airmen bring in different medical experiences from their civilian occupations and studies to the AE mission.

"I find that reservists are the most diverse in aeromedical evacuation," said MacPherson. "They bring experience from their outside careers that span from nurse practitioners to paramedics to intensive care unit nurses to radiology technicians and they bring all that clinical experience providing better care to our patients in the plane."

Tust, who is a traditional reservist, is also a student studying radiology.

"It's really nice to not only fly as much as I do, work in the squadron as much as I do, but also maintain my education and work toward those future goals I have," said Tust. "It is an amazing opportunity to be able to do both."

Additionally, the squadron is currently hiring nurses and medical technicians to join their life-saving mission.

"It's one of the best jobs I've ever had. And I really stand behind what we do," said MacPherson. "We go out to austere locations, with minimal equipment and save lives every day."