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Crews Provide Aeromedical Evacuation Capabilities in Cope North Exercise

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --

Air Force C-130J Super Hercules and C-12J Huron aircrews assigned to Yokota Air Base, Japan, are participating in this year’s Cope North exercise here, which began Feb. 11 and runs to March 2.

During the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of Cope North, one of the primary training objectives for both aircraft is aeromedical evacuation.

“Aeromedical evacuations are a big C-130 platform in the U.S,” said Air Force Maj. Cerre Dolby, C-130J evaluator pilot. “Out in the Pacific, or at least in Yokota, it’s primarily a C-12 mission. Usually there’s one or two people that need treatment and the C-12s are launched. During a big [humanitarian assistance and disaster relief] exercise, there’s more people that need movement than what the C-12 can support, and that’s when they call the C-130J’s”

This year’s scenario included a simulated earthquake on Tinian, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, which allowed the Yokota-based crew to prepare for possible real-life emergencies.

“It’s been incumbent upon us to figure out what these people need as far as supplies in these hypothetical scenarios,” said Dolby. “It’s given us, as an aircrew, some insight on how we work together and how we’re going to put these litters and patients on our aircraft.”

Bolstering Capabilities

While Cope North 2018 has allowed the Yokota C-130J aircrews a rare opportunity to participate in a multinational aeromedical evacuation exercise, this kind of mission is a common occurrence for C-12 crews at their home station. Still, the exercise provides an opportunity for the C-12 crews to bolster this capability alongside partners in the region.

“[Cope North] is essential, not only to increase interoperability with allied nations, but also to better our understanding of medical procedures performed during our [aeromedical evacuation] missions,” said Air Force Maj. Lane Riddell, 459th Airlift Squadron C-12 mission commander. “It provides a training ground to learn from others, which enables us to potentially help more patients.”

Cope North began in 1978 as a quarterly bilateral exercise held at Misawa Air Base, Japan, and moved here in 1999. 

Today, the annual exercise serves as an opportunity to promote stability and security throughout the Indo-Pacific region by enabling regional forces to hone vital readiness skills and increase interoperability.