Joint Base Andrews has been quietly playing a major role on the wounded warrior’s front. Andrews hosts an elite medical team called CCATT, the Critical Care Air Transport Team. Each CCATT team has three members, a physician, a critical care nurse and a respiratory technician. Joint Base Andrews deploys a three man team on board a designated aircraft as a flying ICU to stabilize soldiers with injuries from war. I had the opportunity to talk to Major Ron Jones, the CCATT Team Coordinator and find out how the team works and why their missions are so critical.
“There can be a CCATT team at any base that supports them. Each team has three members that are specially trained for the mission. The CCATT members train as a team and deploy as a team “said Maj. Jones. The emphasis on training allows the CCATT crew to transform the aircraft quickly and efficiently into a flying intensive care unit. Andrews supports 10 CCATT teams with a rigorous deployment cycle. The crews are in place for 18 months at home and 6 months on steady alert. When on alert they must be able to respond to a mission within 2 hours.
Training is critical to these teams. “The advanced team training before you are deployed is the worst case scenario for the teams. So when you are on a mission, you can reach right in and boom there you go” said Maj. Jones.
The CCATT team has increased its operational efficiency from point of injury to the U.S. from 21 day during Vietnam to 3 days currently. Maj. Jones hopes to see more improvement in the future. “I would like to see more teams in various locations. More teams would benefit more wounded warriors; right now we are limited by crew number and how many patients we can transport” said Maj. Jones
The injuries vary in severity, but all the CCATT team members fall back on their training and team mentality to provide first rate care to wounded warriors. SrA Jenna Pattison, a Medical Tech for the 779thMedical group, recalls her most memorable mission. “It was my first mission. I remember walking on the plane with the burn patients. I remember the smell, and then it just hits you that it’s someone’s daughter or son. It hits you that this war is not a joke, it’s real” said SrA Pattinson.
The CCATT team only sees patients for one day so they aren’t able to see the effects on the soldiers, but the CCATT members feel the effects of their work. “It gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Most CCATT members don’t feel elite as individuals; they feel that as a team. Each member makes up just a 1/10thof that effort” said Maj. Jones.
Whether you see them or not, they are always there. Bringing our soldiers home and stabilizing their injuries so they can begin the long process of putting their lives back together. Every day Joint Base Andrews silently plays a role in that new beginning.