Leader Blues

Friday, August 29, 2008

TOP STORY > >Air base sends planes to help with hurricane

By JONATHAN FELDMAN
Leader staff writer

Two C-130s on Friday left Little Rock Air Force Base to pick up medical teams in the region as preparation for Hurricane Gustav. The planes are from the 463rd Airlift Groupís 61st and 50th Airlift Squadrons.

All squadrons at LRAFB are on standby if needed, as are other military bases in the area, including Camp Robinson.

The medical teams will be taken to Texas, where they will rapidly deploy if the storm proves destructive. The teams, known as aeromedical evacuation teams (AETs), will provide emergency treatment to evacuees while aboard an aircraft. AETs generally consist of two flight nurses and three medical technicians, but can change depending on a patientís needs.

Flight crews for AETs come from all branches of the military, not just the Air Force.

AETs are used for both military and humanitarian purposes around the world.

Approximately 50 guardsmen from Camp Robinson will deploy to Camp Beauregard in Pineville, La., on Saturday to provide emergency assistance. Their mission initially is to provide airspace management, weather briefings and forecasts for 30 days.

Nine guardsmen from Camp Robinson deployed yesterday to Louisiana to prepare for todayís arrivals.

According to the National Hurricane Centerís Web site on Friday, it is too early to predict where the storm will make landfall.

The storm had not yet formed a consistent eye on Friday, but the NHC believes Gustav has the potential of turning into a powerful storm. The NHC says that the warm waters of the Carribean Sea will strengthen the storm as it approaches the Gulf of Mexico putting it on track to become a major hurricane.

Mandatory evacuation of New Orleans has been ordered by Sunday. Gustav is likely to reach the western Gulf in a few days, but the NHC cannot yet determine where it will make landfall. The LRAFB and Camp Robinson are taking these warnings very seriously to ensure that mistakes made before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 are not repeated.