Aeromedical innovation earns A/TA award

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

One of the 15th Wing’s own was awarded the Airlift/Tanker Association Young Leader Award, an award given to only 12 Airmen across the force every year. 

The award recognizes Airmen who exhibit leadership skills and contribute greatly to the airlift or tanker mission. 

Col. Daniel Dobbels, 15th Wing commander, presented the A/TA Young Leadership Award to Tech. Sgt. Kalani Ka’auamo, 15th Medical Group Ohana Health Clinic flight chief, Nov. 5. 

“I was lucky to be stationed where I was and with that team,” said Ka’auamo, who is originally from Keanae, Maui, Hawaii. “It always takes a team to come together and get things done.” 

Ka’auamo’s achievements include helping coordinate medical transportation across the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa areas of responsibility while serving as an aeromedical evacuation controller for the 603rd Air Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, between 2017 and 2019.

Ka’auamo recalls some of the challenges he faced fulfilling a senior non-commissioned officer position in charge of a unit, being on-call 24/7 for emergencies, and coordinating life-saving efforts.

One of Ka’auamo’s accomplishments includes expediting a patient movement request after his unit was called directly on accident.  

“We were receiving real-time information from the team on the ground,” said Ka’auamo, who arrived at JBPHH in March.“We were able to coordinate with them and the other medical teams to get a plane in the air and headed their way.”

Normally, when a servicemember requires aeromedical transport, the Theater Patient Movement Requirements Center verbally validates all of the information about the situation and patient before sending an aircraft. Under Ka’auamo’s responsibility, the first expedited process occurred when the aircraft and crew members assembled before receiving validation from the TPMRC. 

“We had talked about the expedited PMR but had never been able to implement it,” said Ka’auamo. “That operation happened and we could do it. We were able to get those guys out of there and get them to a higher echelon of care.”

Ka’aumo’s transition from directing life-saving aircraft across two continents as an AE controller to caring for Airmen and their families at 15th MDG is a change of pace.  

“It’s important for me to know that we are doing the best we can to take care of active-duty Airmen and their families,” said Ka’auamo. “If we can do that, then those members can do their job and contribute to the mission.”

“I was told that I had the opportunity to lead and mentor younger Airmen, and that’s what sold me,” said Ka’aumo, about his job at the 15th MDG. “I get to show the Airmen that there is a lot out there for medical Airmen and help guide them to get to specialties they want.”