by Staff Sgt. Maria Boman
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
1/18/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Children's
toys can become tools used by adults to create an object with the goal
of making a difference in the lives of others. Scott AFB, Ill., served
as a guiding hand in that process for seven U.S. Air Force Academy
cadets Jan. 15, 2013.
Since August, a group of senior cadets from the Academy have been
designing patient loading prototypes to improve the current system
medical personnel use to transport a patient into an aircraft more
safely and easily. This project serves an Air Force need.
"The current patient loading system needs to be replaced with safer
equipment for medical personnel and patients," said Maj. Samantha
Treadwell, Air Mobility Command Aeromedical Evacuation Medical
Modernization officer in charge. "Currently, parts have to be taken off
of one PLS to fix another because the parts can no longer be ordered."
The prototypes needed feedback from the people it would serve. So, three
students visited the 375th AES conference room at Scott for the first
patient loading system capstone workshop.
"One of the major issues with numerous design projects is that engineers
design something the customer does not want," said Maj. Cody Rasmussen,
the Academy's engineering mechanics department advisor. "Our goal is to
avoid that common and critical error at all costs."
The cadets gave a verbal presentation on their prototypes design
construction, analysis and testing. Then, using prototypes made of wood,
metal and colorful interlocking plastic bricks, they presented their
potential PLS replacement design concepts, including different lifts and
means of elevating patients into a plane. The medical personnel tested
the prototypes and provided feedback on advantages and disadvantages.
"Without inputs from the AE members, we have no guidance for what needs
to be improved," said Cadet 1st Class Hayden Richards, who's only had
about two hours of evacuation experience. "We hope to mesh our ideas
With more than 2,000 hours of combined experience, the 375th AES participants moved theory into a practical system.
"Bringing AF Academy cadets here for collaboration allows for maximum
feedback from those in the field," Treadwell said. "The 375th AES is the
pilot unit for all Air Force aeromedical evacuation issues, and it's
critical the medical personnel are involved in the process."
The workshop was not just beneficial to the cadets working on this
project--it's also important for the medical personnel who will use the
new PLS in the future because Air Mobility Command's aeromedical
evacuation mission transports wounded and injured service members to
critical care hospitals far away from the battle space.
"One day, one of their inventions will be what we use," said Maj. Michelle Wyche, 375th AES clinical management flight nurse.
Safety is very important to members of Team Scott, as it is throughout the rest of all military.
"Providing safe patient transport is vital," Treadwell said. "An improved PLS will aid in that effort."
This workshop was just one more stop on the road to completing this project.
"With the information we gathered, we will now select and build two
final prototypes with increased functionality and size," said Rasmussen.
"Our goal is to have enough work done so the future system design
process will go faster, and the customer will get a system that better
fulfills their need."
The cadets will give their final presentation in May to the Air Mobility
Command customers, in addition to leaders in the Air Force Medical
The students involved in this project are Cadets 1st Class Matt Heien,
Tyler Ogren, Brad Phelan, Fred Rath, Jared Rillings, Jenna Whetsel, and