Wing Reservists help save child's life: 452nd AES puts their training to the test

An aeromedical evacuation team member tends to 2-year-old John Tenorio, who is on a patient litter and hooked up to mobile critical care equipment while en route from Saipan on a C-17 Globemaster III to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Jimmy Barrow)

An aeromedical evacuation team member tends to 2-year-old John Tenorio, a litter patient who was hooked up to mobile critical care equipment while en route from Saipan on a C-17 Globemaster III to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Jimmy Barrow)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Three Airmen from the 452nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron had intensive on-the-job training in May during their annual tour at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. 

Capt. Jennifer Pairis, AES flight nurse; Master Sgt. Marke McCracken, aeromedical evacuation technician; and Staff Sgt. Katherine Newcomer, aeromedical evacuation technician, were on alert as part of the Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center. 

"We were there sitting (on) alert in anywhere in the whole PACAF," said Capt. Pairis. 

One of the missions they were alerted for was from Saipan requesting immediate assistance for John Terorio, a 2-year-old with pneumonia and organ system failure. The three March Airmen and seven additional medical personnel flew for seven hours on a C-17 Globemaster III in hopes of saving this young boy's life. 

"It's tense on the way there because you don't know exactly what to expect," said Sergeant Newcomer. "I'm still fairly new at operations missions, so just the tension of wondering if I'm going to do everything I need to do and hoping to help somebody." 

After landing in Saipan, the team was on the ground for approximately three hours with the patient. During those three hours, the boy was evaluated and moved to the aircraft for air evacuation. 

"I love my job as a nurse and taking care of patients is my element," said Capt. Pairis. "Not only were we there for the patient, but the parents as well." 

John's parents were on the flight with him to Hawaii. They sat and talked to him while he was unconscious.  Hawaii for two weeks for (a mission) "The parents were really frightened," said Sergeant Newcomer. "But, they were a lot more relaxed when they got off the plane than when they got on." 

Since his air evacuation from Saipan, John is reported to have been taken off the ventilator and he has regained his organ functions. 

"It's nice to be able to utilize the training we have in a non-training environment," said Sergeant McCracken. "[It's great] knowing we belong to a country that allows us to not only help our own people, but others as well. We are able to provide them with whatever level of care they need." 

"These patients, they touch you," said Capt. Pairis. "You don't just go home and not think about them."