The 174th Medical Group Takes Remote Operations to a Whole New Level

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base --

With the growth of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) program due to the demands from combatant commanders, keeping aircrews healthy is essential to mission success. If an aircrew member is placed on duty not involving flying (DNIF) status, it takes away from accomplishing the mission so it is critical to get the member back to flying status as quickly as possible. Having a flight surgeon available helps speed up that process.

“If a unit doesn’t have a flight surgeon and their members need to be on flight status, they may have to wait until the next drill, which could take over a month. The only person that can put someone back in flying status is a flight surgeon and a flight surgeon is primarily a drill status guardsman,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kenney, Chief of Aerospace Medicine for the 174th Medical Group.

Recognizing there was a need for an enterprise-wide grounding management program, the 174th Medical Group now has full-time force support to handle grounding management issues.

This force support comes in the form of a video based system that allows members of the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) use their tele-medical capabilities to help other RPA Wings across the state. The system provides immediate access for grounding management when a visual need of a clinic visit is required. At the moment the system is unique to the 174th ATKW.

“We’re using technology that allows us to care for people across the state and I think that’s pretty cool,” Kenney said.

The technology also decreases the time for medical dispositions by using the 174th ATKW’s force support. This allows aircrew a chance to be returned to flying status at a more rapid pace. It also improves and increases training capacity and flying hour production.

Since the fall of 2016 the medical group has five flying examinations (physical health assessment for aircrew) and three grounding managements (removing an aircrew member off of DNIF).

The 174th ATKW has been using this technology for over a year. They primarily use it with the 107 Airlift Wing, but hope to reach out to bases that don’t have flight medical capabilities or a flight surgeon.

“This capability can be pushed out to any RPA unit with a video feed,” Kenney said.