Ed's Note: The new series "Inside Combat Rescue" on the National Geographic Channel, profiles Pararescuemen, or PJs, the elite combat rescue members of the U.S. Air Force who have one mission: rescue American or Allied forces in extreme danger. For the first time in their history, the PJs allow camera crews to cover their missions in Afghanistan. "Inside Combat Rescue" just closed out its 6-episode run as the highest-rated new series of the season on the National Geographic channel. Check out the website for videos, photos and profiles from the show.
RICHMOND, Va., December 5, 2012 – The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and HCA Virginia, in partnership with the University of New Mexico (UNM) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Academy Paramedic Pararescue Program, concluded the first successful Richmond-based clinical training rotation of select airmen who hope to pass the test to become Air Force Pararescuemen.
Also known as PJs, Pararescuemen are elite combat forces trained to parachute into hostile territory, fight their way in, rescue those in need, and fight their way out. Not to be confused with medics who tend to the wounded unarmed, PJs are highly trained combatants with world-class trauma medical skills in addition to a myriad of other extraordinary capabilities. They are qualified experts in many areas including advanced weapons, combat diving, rescue swimming, parachute operations, the use of extrication devices and battlefield paramedicine. Simply put, Pararescuemen are the most highly trained and versatile personnel recovery specialists in the world, executing the most perilous and extreme rescue missions anytime, anywhere across the globe.
The initial phase of training for the 19 airmen in this US Air Force Paramedic Pararescue Program took place at Kirtland Air Force Base with instruction by UNM EMS Academy faculty. Richmond, Virginia was selected for the second phase of training because of the city’s world-class, high-performance EMS system and HCA Virginia’s excellent emergency and inpatient clinical departments.
During their eight weeks in Richmond, the Pararescuemen trained in the field with RAA where they learned scene command and trauma field treatment techniques. They also conducted intensive training in the emergency, critical, and acute care departments of Chippenham, Henrico Doctors’ and Johnston-Willis hospitals.
“The PJs acted as the lead medics in the field under the watchful eyes of extremely experienced RAA paramedics,” said Wayne Harbour, chief clinical officer of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. “The next time they are performing EMS duties could be under combat conditions, so the more intensive and advanced their field training, the better.”
“It is an honor for us to help train these brave and talented warriors in the emergency medical services part of their Pararescue training course,” said Chip Decker, CEO of the Richmond Ambulance Authority. “Their motto—‘These Things We Do, That Others May Live’—affirms their absolute dedication to saving lives, and we are proud to do all we can to train and support them as they work their way toward becoming full-fledged Pararescuemen. They are outstanding young men who have answered a noble calling.”
In the HCA Virginia hospitals, PJs used their paramedic training to assist doctors and nurses in examining and treating patients throughout the numerous emergency departments, operating rooms, critical care, intensive care, labor and delivery, and pediatric intensive care units.