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The comptetition begins the minute they land

Personnel from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, train on a C-130 Hercules at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo 2007. Before practicing, the aircraft must be configured by removing rails on the floor and connecting all extension poles to make it aerial evacuation capable. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

Personnel from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, train on a C-130 Hercules at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo 2007. Before practicing, the aircraft must be configured by removing rails on the floor and connecting all extension poles to make it aerial evacuation capable. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

Staff Sgt. Erin Reifer and Senior Airman Kiley Gervitsen from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, simulate evacuating casualties from a C-130 Hercules in Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo 2007. The unit practiced in the evenings to simulate night time operations for wartime missions. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

Staff Sgt. Erin Reifer and Senior Airman Kiley Gervitsen from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, simulate evacuating casualties from a C-130 Hercules in Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo 2007. The unit practiced in the evenings to simulate night time operations for wartime missions. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

Members of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron , Kadena Air Base, Japan, simulate evacuating casualties from a C-130 Hercules at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo  2007. The unit practiced in the evenings to simulate night time operations for wartime missions. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

Members of the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron , Kadena Air Base, Japan, simulate evacuating casualties from a C-130 Hercules at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Japan, in preparation for Air Mobility Rodeo 2007. The unit practiced in the evenings to simulate night time operations for wartime missions. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Editors Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles on Team Kadena's preparation for the Air Mobility Rodeo.

The team assesses and cares for patients with IED wounds as quickly and carefully as they can. Adrenaline pumps fast as five members from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron work together to rapidly prepare for take off. A common scenario in today's world, but this is a simulated exercise in prep for AMC Rodeo McChord Air Force Base, Wash. 

"That's the type of scenarios they're going to be running with us during Air Mobility Rodeo 2007," said Capt. Donna Hornberger, chief of stand-eval, and coach for Kadena's aerovac Rodeo team. 

The 18th AES conducts training with KC-135s primarily here at Kadena, but most scenarios at the event will be on C-17 Globemasters and C-130 Hercules, aircraft they are less familiar with. To overcome this obstacle, they have been using the C-130s from MCAS, Futenma and C-17s from Hickam AFB, Hawaii. 

The squadron began physical training for the event in February. During training team members ran, did push-ups, sit-ups, strength training and tackled the air evacuation challenge course. This course is a mile and half ran as a team. Along the way, the team does 150 push-ups, 150 crunches, plants IV's and assesses a trauma victim. 

"We've been making the course a little tougher by wearing the flak vest," said Captain Hornberger. "We're just trying to make it as real world as we can for the event." 

The 18th AES participants plan to leave July 13 to preposition at Hickam. They will conduct more training there while acclimating to the time zone before the PT test begins when they land. 

Upon arrival to McChord they immediately begin the C-130 competition. They will stop just long enough to load the patients on, close up the ramp and take off again. Soon after, they will be flying five hours during which they will undergo different medical scenarios. 

"There is no doctor and we're the only people up there assessing what's wrong with the patient, getting them what they need and giving them definitive care," said Captain Hornberger. 

Treating patients at higher altitudes is different, the environment is not as sterile, stethoscopes are useless due to the loud noise so visual inspections and verbal cueing is used. In addition to these complications, oxygen levels decrease and the barometric pressure changes, causing accumulation of pain. 

"Anything that holds air is going to create pain for you so that's another example of something that happens," said Staff Sgt. Erin Riefer, team instructor. 

Certain equipment used in hospitals are filled with air, but when flying, saline solution is used as a substitute to avoid any complications. Equipment is scattered and strapped down throughout the floor of the plane and patients are on top of each other. 

"There are a lot of things we do differently in the aerovac world," said Sergeant Riefer.
Nurses and technicians work rapidly to treat critical patients in a crowded area.
"We're like a flying hospital," said Captain Hornberger. 

Other scenarios will be conducted on a C-17 and KC-135 with the exception of taking off.
The members of the 18th AES will experience aerial evacuation scenarios for the first time during the Rodeo competition. Most of them have deployment experience like team member, Staff Sgt. Erin Riefer, who flew 10 missions on a C-17 and 20 on a C-130 while deployed. 

"I have gained a lot of experience and I can't wait to get back on those planes again for Rodeo," she said. The focus of the exercise for her is "to show what you can do when deployed." 

"It has been difficult for the squadron to train because of real world missions," said Captain Hornberger. 

They cover the largest AOR, from the Horn of Africa to the west coast of the United States and from both north and south poles. Though feeling less qualified for the competition they do have deployment experience. 

"This is the Olympics of what we do," said Captain Hornberger. "We do this everyday and this is to showcase the best of the best." 

Kadena's Rodeo team consists of 25 individuals selected from the 18th Security Forces, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron, 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 909th Air Refueling Squadron and the 718th Air Maintenance Squadron, they will be participating in different events during Rodeo. 

The Air Mobility Rodeo is a premier competition showcasing warriors air refueling, maintenance, aeromedical evacuation, fit-to-fight, security forces and air transportation.
Among the 60 teams, 48 are from various major commands, Guard and Reserve units, Marines and Navy. The rest are from foreign countries including Germany, United Kingdom, Singapore, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Pakistan.