41st RQS conducts Florida hospital patient transfer

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Courtney Sebastianelli
  • 23rd Wing

The rescue community lives by the motto ‘so that others may live’ … A code that ensures someone’s worst day isn’t their last.

Showcasing not only their exceptional skill and readiness but also their dedication to their motto, Airmen assigned to the 41st Rescue Squadron and 38th Rescue Squadron conducted a rapid patient transport from Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast Hospital in Marimar Beach, Florida, to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

“The collaboration and creativity displayed by our emergency department staff and Moody Air Force Base personnel helped to safely transport this patient when every minute counted,” said Bryan Walrath, Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast Hospital President and CEO. “I am grateful to our ER Charge Nurse for advocating for our patients and finding a dynamic solution to this unique situation.”

The circumstances became life or death for the patient who was experiencing transplant rejection. The situation was further complicated when bad weather prevented all civilian aerial transportation.

On Dec. 1, 2023, ASHECH reached out to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center requesting support. The AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating on-land federal search and rescue activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada. The center immediately forwarded the request Moody AFB.

“We train for all types of scenarios,” said Col. Thaddeus Ronnau, 41st Rescue Squadron commander. “Our Airmen are prepared to face any and all circumstances. This was a mission that really allowed us to impact a life.”

At 8:30 a.m., Moody was notified with the request for a critical air transport of the patient. Less than 45 minutes later, a team of six were airborne in route to ASHECH for the patient pick up.

“We were able to provide a capability that they just couldn’t,” said Capt. Andrew Rosethal, 41st RQS pilot. “We can do search and rescue and we can land in bad weather whereas a civilian helicopter may not be able to. This was an opportunity to be a little more connected to the job we are always training for.”

That training allowed the team to complete a two-hour flight ensuring the patient would receive the higher level of care needed. While the mission only took six hours to complete, the impact is a reminder that the rescue community remains committed to saving lives no matter the circumstance.