A service member who tested positive for the coronavirus was transported from the Indo-Pacific region for treatment at David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center on Travis AFB. The successful aeromedical airlift support was conducted by the 775th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight via C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the 21st Airlift Squadron.
This aeromedical evacuation mission marks the first operational employment of the Transport Isolation System in support of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility. It is the 18th employment of the TIS since its first operational use for COVID-19 April 10.
“Our Airmen helped bring a U.S. service member home today to get the medical care they need to fight and recover from COVID-19,” said Col. Corey Simmons, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander. “I could not be prouder of the mobility Airmen who executed this historic, and lifesaving, aeromedical evacuation mission out of Travis AFB.”
Travis AFB is one of three staging areas for the U.S. Air Force’s specialized aeromedical evacuation missions relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we say rapid global mobility…this is how we project American airpower,” Simmons said. “Team Travis’ capabilities and the seamless partnership with multiple organizations across the Air Force enabled us to promptly help those in need throughout the Indo-Pacific region during this challenging, global pandemic.”
Currently, only the C-130H Hercules, the C-130J Super Hercules and the C-17 aircraft are able to carry the TIS capsules, making Travis AFB, with its fleet of 13 C-17s and location on the West Coast, a crucial player in the Air Force’s efforts to repatriate service members and civilians who remain in foreign countries as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
This mission, call sign Reach 444, was composed of a full TIS force package, which includes one C-17 and aircrew carrying two TIS modules and medical support personnel, consisting of AE specialists, Critical Care Air Transport Team members, infectious diseases doctors and technicians, and TIS operators.
The TIS is a biocontainment unit designed to minimize risk to aircrew, medical attendants, and the airframe while allowing medical care to be provided to patients in-flight. It was originally developed during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.