Tactical Medical Wing
Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) was formed on 1 April 1996. TMW’s role is to provide, support and supply medical services to all deployed RAF personnel worldwide whether on operations or on exercise.
HQ TMW is one of 13 Air Combat Service Support Units (ACSSUs) within 2 Group. It acts as the ‘operational hub’ for all personnel of the RAF Medical Services (RAFMS). Acting primarily in an enabling capacity, it performs the following 4 key operational tasks:
- The provision of Deployable Aeromedical Response Teams (DARTS) at 6 hours notice to move.
- Worldwide Aeromedical Evacuation (AE), including the transportation of highly infectious and/or critically ill patients.
- Provision of operational medical training.
- Provision of medical logistics.
HQ TMW cannot, however, deliver these capabilities in isolation. We rely heavily on other agencies such as:
- Medical Operations at HQ Air Command who provide operational direction.
- Chief of Staff Health/Director General Medical Services (RAF) who deliver the majority of the trained RAF medical manpower.
- Chief of Staff Support, the focus for ACSSUs.
HQ TMW also relies heavily on a handful of specialist personnel including RAF Regiment Gunners, Suppliers and Technicians as well as the Reserve capabilities of No 4626 (County of Wiltshire) AE Sqn, Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) and No 612 (County of Aberdeen) Sqn, RAuxAF, each of whom are critical to operational mission success.
As a non-formed unit, HQ TMW places significant reliance on medical personnel from RAF Stations across the country and many others who may work across Service boundaries, within Agencies or within the NHS. It is only when they come together that they form trained, deployable medical teams.
The success of the unit relies on communication, a positive attitude and teamwork - “One Team, One Mission”. TMW is, by design, modular, mobile and flexible, with the capacity for operating in austere and challenging conditions.
HQ Elements of TMW
TMW provides the following support for RAF, Joint and Combined operations:
Planning is divided into 2 distinct areas, Operational Planning and Exercise Planning. Operational planning is devoted to providing medical assets to real-time operations around the world, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Exercise planning ensures that medical personnel are adequately trained and provided with the skills necessary to perform their operational roles.
Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre
The Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre (AECC) is responsible for all medical flight logistics and communications between all UK organisations, civilian public services, and foreign services alike. They are the central hub of information and the single point of contact for all involved.
Aeromedical Evacuation (AE)
AE Sqn provides daily aeromedical evacuation support to the Armed Forces during peace, crisis or war. AE involves the repatriation of patients from around the world, accompanied by a specialist medical team, utilising available air assets. The medical care is maintained through the onward move to the final receiving UK hospital. Additionally Critical Care Air Support Teams are also available to repatriate seriously wounded or critically ill Service personnel.
Deployable Aeromedical Response Teams (DARTS)
As the only permanently formed medical element, DARTS personnel provide the initial RAF medical footprint in support of operations and exercises. Teams rotate and maintain a 6 hrs notice to move, deployable capability for worldwide operations.
Logistics personnel provide both field and medical equipment for all the operational elements of TMW. The Logistics personnel work closely with internal and external agencies to deliver the most appropriate equipment to meet operational time frames.
Infection Control Nursing Team
The Infection Control Nursing Team ensures the efficient management of infection control principles within TMW formations and deployed operations, so that acceptable levels of infection control are maintained in peace and war. They are also responsible for the maintenance of the Air Transportable Isolator (ATI), a joint venture between the MoD and Department of Health, which provides a capability to aeromedically evacuate highly infectious patients.
Training is also divided into 5 distinct areas, Aeromedical Evacuation Training, Operational Training, Critical Care Air Support Team (CCAST) Training, ATI Training and Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) Training.
- Aeromedical Evacuation Training provides the RAF with qualified Flight Nursing Officers (FNO) Flight Nurses (FN), and Flight Medics (FM) who are called upon to aeromedically repatriate military personnel from all 3 Services, and entitled civilians, from around the world. Aeromedical evacuation theory training is also provided to Medical Support Officers and Medical Officers.
- Operational Training develops the skills and knowledge required by medical personnel to fulfill their operational role within a deployed medical formation. The training includes deployment theory, navigation, field living, kit preparation and usage, operational procedures and organization.
- CCAST Training teaches ITU qualified, FMs and MDSS personnel about the specialist equipment and CCAST AE mission processes. The CCAST training team also conducts Haemofiltration training for RAFMS personnel.
- Training on the ATI is delivered to individuals that are selected to deploy as part of the Deployable Air Isolator Team.
- MERT Training is designed to provide initial exposure to the role of MERT within the rotary aviation environment and is specifically designed for RAF Medics (Paramedic), RAF Emergency Nurses and Doctors from all three Services deploying into this role. It is also designed to assess the individual’s suitability to deploy in the role.
The Reservists are an integral part of the RAFMS. 4626 RAuxAF Sqn provide support to Tactical and Strategic Aeromed, Forward Aeromed, Critical Care Air Support Teams and Role 1 Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF). 612 RAuxAF Sqn provide support to a Role 2 MTF with an integrated Role 1 facility.
MERT provide a capability to evacuate patients from the battlefield to a medical treatment facility while initiating treatment in the air.
Tactical & Strategic AE
These teams provide intra-theatre (tactical) AE from the battlefield to initial point of treatment or between medical treatment facilities within the area of operations. They also enable the strategic evacuation of patients from overseas either to the UK or another NATO country.
Critical Care Air Support Teams
Critical Care Air Support Teams (CCAST) provide a capability to evacuate seriously ill patients. They effectively replicate an intensive care facility in the air. They can operate strategically or tactically or even at the forward level within the area of operations.
Role 1 Medical Treatment Facilities
Role 1 Medical Treatment Facilities (MTF) provide primary health care, immediate emergency care and crash cover to RAF detachments. They can accommodate up to 5 patients.
Role 2 Medical Treatment Facilities
Role 2 MTFs provide primary health care, immediate emergency care, crash cover and additionally psychiatric care, physiotherapy and surgical capabilities. They can provide up to 2 intensive care beds within a 10 or 25-bed facility.
Air Staging Units
These patient holding facilities, based on a building block concept, can provide up to 75 beds with surgical and ITU capabilities. They may be stand-alone facilities or may enhance an existing facility such as a Field Hospital.
Forensic Aviation Pathology Response Teams
Forensic Aviation Pathology Response Teams (FAPRT). FAPRTs provide forensic pathology services in response to aircraft incidents/accidents and other special tasks as directed by operational commanders and Permanent Joint Headquarters.
Psychiatric Support Teams
Psychiatric Support Teams (PST). PSTs provide psychiatric support to operational commanders and can be attached to or augment any of the TMW sub units.
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Local Area Flying (LAF)
25 Metre Range
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