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Ambulatory Care Unit meets mission critical need for student, instructor population

  • Published
  • By Ciara M Travis
  • 492d Special Operations Wing

Imagine being in training and having an urgent need for medical care but not having access to that medical care for days or potentially weeks. This predicament was often the narrative for students assigned to AFSOC’s Formal Training Units. Ultimately, situations like this would typically lead to delayed training pipelines and a variety of other issues.

The 492nd Special Operations Training Support Squadron stood up an Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU) to ensure consistent, emergent healthcare needs of students and instructors were met, allowing for a streamlined process without disrupting the training pipeline.

Now members assigned to the 492 SOTRSS, the 19 Special Operations Squadron, and 492nd Special Operations Training Group, Detachment 1 have access to both flight medicine and psychology services through an entire medical team consisting of a Flight Surgeon, an Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT), an Aviation Psychologist, an Operational Psychology Technician, and an embedded POTFF Clinical Psychologist.

“Aircrew students and instructors have access to performance optimization training, psychological testing and feedback, preventative airsickness management training, post-airsickness treatment, mental health counseling, nonclinical performance coaching, as well as in-flight assessments to coach human factors and other stressors,” said Maj. Owen-John Williams, 492 SOTRSS ACU Flight Commander.

In addition to the ACU being stood up, a working group was formed that allowed for a collaboration between the 492 SOTRSS, 19 SOS, 1st Special Operations Medical Group Flight Medicine Clinic, and the 1st Special Operations Support Squadron Aerospace and Operational Physiology Flight.

“13 ‘saves’,” said Williams. “Since standing up a monthly airsickness working group collaborative, we’ve been able to help 13 students who were at risk of being washed out of training for airsickness.”

Airman First Class Nathan Staso, 492 SOTRSS Squadron AC-130J Special Missions Aviator student, has used the ACU a variety of times and has nothing but good things to say about it.

“In the time it takes to schedule an appointment through the main medical group, I could walk into the ACU, talk to the staff and immediately figure out a solution and get a care plan,” said Staso. “They are truly what I would consider a one-stop-shop for everything you’d need in a medical environment.”

Staso shared one example of a peer using the ACU for pain relief.

“One friend, also an aircrew student, had jaw pain and the ACU provided dry needling to help with the pain and they said it really helped,” Staso said.

In addition to students and instructors, pending availability, the care can be utilized by any operational active duty members in the 492 SOW.