BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Saturday, the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base gained an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as military members gathered for a re-designation ceremony for the "flying ambulance."
Air Force flight nurse Jesse Walsh says she's always wanted to be a medical professional. She's now proud to be a part of the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
"They're the best patients in the world, defending our freedom, putting their lives at risk, it's the most honorable thing to be taking care of them," said Walsh.
Walsh's military career started when her twin joined ROTC in high school in Missouri, and she followed suit. Her squadron relocated to Keesler from Pope Field in North Carolina with an official ceremony Saturday.
Air Force Sgt. Tony Staut says most of the squadron's personnel come to keesler one weekend a month for continued mission training.
"The bulk of personnel came from North Carolina. The 30 people that came down left their families, [and] now drive 11 and half hours to base." Staut noted.
Staut says each plane is similar to a flying ambulance, meant to rescue people in need of care from war zones or hurricanes.
"Altitude affects what can happen to that patient. We take that extra leap, fly training mission after training mission, to keep that skill set valid," Staut added.
Walsh says she and other medical flight personnel went through survival school for water and land survival to be a part of the squadron, because improvisation may be needed on the plane.
"Hospitals on ground, you have everything at your fingertips. Up in the air it's louder, and you really have to have a good grasp on altitude physiology when flying patients in the air to know how it will affect them. If something goes wrong, we're making a phone call and using what we have," Walsh noted.
The squadron includes 40 officers and 83 enlisted personnel as part of the 403rd Wing. Five of those positions are full-time air reserve technicians.