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Air Force Academy Cadets visit Scott AFB
Cadet 1st Class Hayden Richards demonstrates how the elevator lift works during the workshop Jan. 15, 2013 at Scott AFB, Ill. A small group of Air Force Academy seniors designed prototypes of patient loading systems, which help medical personnel get patients into planes. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Maria Bowman)
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Academy cadets demonstrate patient loading system prototypes

Posted 1/29/2013   Updated 1/29/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Maria Boman
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Three senior Air Force Academy cadets traveled to Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Jan. 15 to meet with customers and get feedback about patient loading prototypes they and four others started designing in August.

The cadets met with members of the 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and representatives from Air Mobility Command during a Patient Loading System, or PLS, capstone workshop.

"The current patient loading system needs to be replaced with safer equipment for medical personnel and patients," said Maj. Samantha Treadwell, AMC's aeromedical evacuation medical modernization officer in charge. Currently, parts have to be taken off one PLS to fix another because the parts can no longer be ordered.

The cadets verbally presented their prototype's design construction, analysis and testing. Then, using prototypes made of wood, metal and Legos, they presented their potential PLS replacement design concepts, including different lifts and means of elevating patients onto an aircraft. The medical personnel tested the prototypes and provided feedback on advantages and disadvantages.

"One of the major issues with numerous design projects is that engineers may design something the customer does not want, so our goal was to avoid that at all costs," said Maj. Cody Rasmussen, the Academy's Engineering Mechanics Department adviser.

Without inputs from aermedical evacuation experts, cadets have no guidance for what needs to be improved, said Cadet 1st Class Hayden Richards.

"We hope to mesh our ideas together," Richards added.

Treadwell explained that the 375th AES is the pilot unit for all Air Force aeromedical evacuation issues, so it was critical that the medical personnel were involved in the process. And with more than 2,000 hours of combined experience, the 375th AES participants moved theory into a practical system.

"Providing safe patient transport is vital," she said. "An improved PLS will aid in that effort, and perhaps one day one of their inventions will be what we use."

With the information gathered, the customers will now select and have the cadets build two final prototypes. When the Air Force is ready to proceed, the future system design process will go faster.

The cadets will give their final presentation in May to the Air Mobility Command and to leaders in the Air Force Medical Support Agency.

The students involved in this project are Cadets 1st Class Matt Heien, Tyler Ogren, Brad Phelan, Fred Rath, Jared Rillings, Jenna Whetsel and Hayden Richards.

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