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CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — As American forces prepare to depart from Iraq, there will be a few individuals staying through until the end. The individuals included in the stay are a part of the critical care air transport team, or CCATT, stationed with the 332nd Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The CCATT is capable of providing an equal amount of intensive care and treatment a patient would receive in a regular hospital during aerospace transit to installations that can provide better intensive care to the patient. The concept of CCATT has been around for a number of years and was originally developed in the early 1990s, with teams first deployed by 1995, said Air Force Col. James King, the CCATT theater medical director at Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are where the CCATT has really proven its value. As the years have passed and more experience has been gained within the CCATT community, the level of critical care in the air has improved. "The advances we've made with aero-medical evacuation, in part to the use of CCATTs, has helped support that effort to provide the best medical care for our war fighters when they get injured," added King, who is stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. "Back in the 80s, the thought of treating patients was, 'let's build a big hospital downrange, and we can treat patients as they come off the battlefield,'" said Air Force Capt. Napoleon Roux, the Joint Base Balad CCATT medical director with the 332nd EAEF. "Patients would spend weeks in the theater hospital before they'd make their way back to the states. "Now, it's switched to, 'let's get them out of here fast, let's get them to Germany or even better, to the States where there is a lot of specialty care, like burn units.' "These CCATTs are comprised of physicians, nurses and respitory specialists, all trained in critical care, and usually travel in a C-130 or C-17 Air Force aircraft.
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