SAC C-17 Globemaster transports Romanian burn victims

12 November 2015

One of the Strategic Airlift Capability’s C-17 Globemaster aircraft was used to transport 10 seriously injured people from Bucharest to United Kingdom and Norway on 8 November.

The  mission was flown in response to a request from Romania, one of the SAC member-nations.  All of the patients, six of whom were in very critical condition, had received serious burns in the disastrous fire at a Bucharest nightclub on 30 October.

In order to ease the pressure on the Romanian health care system, an ambulance flight was prepared on short notice. Only a couple of hours after the Romanian mission request had received final approval on Sunday, the C17 aircraft was dispatched to Bucharest from its home base in Pápa, Hungary. At Bucharest International Airport, the versatile C-17 aircraft was furnished with the medical equipment necessary for the transportation of the severely injured burn victims.

During the flight, the patients were treated by a team of 17 Romanian health care professionals, consisting of nine emergency physicians and eight nurses from the Romanian Mobile Emergency Service for Resuscitation and Extrication (SMURD). According to the leader of the team, Dr Solomon Bogdan, the mission was the first with a C-17 for the Romanian health care system. He emphasized that never before had so many patients with such serious medical conditions been transported on a single ambulance flight.

Late Sunday evening, after the patients had been carefully brought on board the C-17, course was set for Royal Air Force station Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. According to Mr John Dyer, Head of Resilience and Specialist Operations at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the ambulance flight was directed to the air base because of its central location. Mr Dyer described the effort as an excellent example of an international humanitarian mission. As soon as all the nine patients had been safely handed over to UK ambulance crews, the SAC C-17 continued its mission to Bergen, Norway, to transfer the last patient.

The mission was executed by a six-member aircrew of the multi-national Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW, this time consisting of military personnel from SAC member nations Norway, Sweden and the United States. The 12 SAC member nations are the NATO members Hungary (Host Nation), Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden. Each participating nation owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17s. It gives them assured access to a strategic transport capability to serve the needs of their national defense, NATO, EU or UN commitments and humanitarian relief efforts.

NSPA’s NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Office is the acquisition and sustainment authority of the SAC C-17 weapon system. The Agency also provides site and administrational support to the HAW.