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NEWS | May 25, 2023

Austere medicine redefined: testing the ATC-EST's capabilities at Northern Edge 23-1

By Airman 1st Class Shelimar Rivera-Rosado

Northern Edge 23-1, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command sponsored, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) led, multilateral, joint field training exercise, kicked off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on May 4, 2023. This exercise provided the opportunity to test the capabilities of the Air Transportable Clinic-Establish (ATC-EST), a health service support device designed by the Pacific Air Forces’ Office of the Command Surgeon and a medical modernization team to support agile combat employment operations at forward operating bases.

The new clinic, transportable by aircraft, is equipped with specialized personnel and equipment that may be modified to support a range of scenarios at early stages of military operations.

“This capability will make us more agile and flexible in austere environments. We can pre-position equipment and people - so if we don't have the ability to evacuate patients by air, we can care for them longer in the field, and move them by ship or ground transportation," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Erica Simon, emergency medical services physician, and EMS consultant to the surgeon general.

The ATC-EST can stabilize and hold three critical patients for up to 24 hours and six non-critical patients for up to 48 hours. It can be deployed within 24 hours of notification, establish emergency room capabilities within two hours and critical care capability within four hours. It can reach full operational capabilities within eight hours of arrival.

“It is designed to treat anything from scrapes and bruises to trauma patients for combat scenarios,” said James Sandvig, program manager for PACAF’s Medical Modernization Division. “The capabilities have been designed to do the entire spectrum of care from minor injuries through trauma support.”

Northern Edge 23-1 provides a venue to test and evaluate the capabilities of the ATC-EST. It will also help identify equipment which should be added and what training is needed to ensure personnel working with it are effective.

“We are here [participating in Northern Edge] to get reps and sets; to perfect our trade. We know tomorrow's fight will not resemble our experiences of the Global War on Terrorism,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Laura Delgado, 176th Medical Group Chief Nurse.

During the exercise, the team was also able to test the capabilities of autonomous solar capabilities on the ATC-EST that reduces the need for fuel.

“PACAF is leading the way with this ACE initiative,” said Simons. “As a consultant, to have the opportunity to come out here and advise it’s incredibly appreciated. When we look at changing the perspective on what austere medicine should be, this ATC retrofit is that.”


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