Air Station units stay medically prepared

20 Nov 2009 | Sgt. Gina C. Rindt

Maintainers aboard the Air Station keep aircraft properly maintained so the aircrew can fly them, but who takes care of the maintainers and aircrew?

The medical crew attached to the units consists of one flight surgeon and possibly two qualified corpsmen. It’s their job to keep up with all the physicals, tests and daily medical concerns for everyone in the squadrons.

According to Navy Lt. Kevin Pinkos, the flight surgeon for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, it’s normal to have one flight surgeon and corpsman responsible for multiple units at other stations.

“We have a better relationship with the members because we only have one unit we’re responsible for,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class David Smith, a corpsmen with VMFA-251. “The Marines get a chance to talk directly to us about numerous types of medical concerns relating to medications, sudden illnesses and much more.”

Squadrons deploy regularly to continue training for the aircrew and the maintainers. While deployed, medical attention is needed for service members and is easily obtained when there are corpsmen or flight surgeons available.

“It’s convenient for unit members to have the corpsmen or medical officer deploy with them in case they need medical care on another station,” Pinkos said. “It’s very helpful to be a part of a unit because it’s easy to get an inside point of view about what medical issues may be going on around the squadron.”

Corpsmen attached to a squadron know more about the history of the individual service members because they stay in constant contact with them. Corpsmen are required to be at the units 40 percent of the time, while the flight surgeons are there 60 percent of the time.

“Having a corpsmen and flight surgeon in the squadron is very helpful for quick questions,” said Capt. Ashley Kosavanna, an operations officer with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224. “If an accident occurs on the flightline, corpsmen are able to give immediate help because they are already here.”

As each unit prepares for upcoming deployments, certain standards need to be met in order to ensure all the Marines and sailors are safe to deploy. They must be up to date on all their medical needs like flight deck physicals for units deploying on the boat, yearly immunizations and many other tests and evaluations. These standards are set by the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute manual used by all medical personnel.

“The corpsmen and flight surgeons with the units are very helpful and necessary to keep the squadrons’ personnel medically fit and able to complete the task at hand,” Kosavanna said.