By Senior Airman Hanna Smith, 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 06, 2020
(Upper left) U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Congo, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, poses for a photo with other 439th AES members April 11, 2020, at Kelly Airfield in Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Aeromedical evacuation members are responsible for providing patient medical care in-flight. (Courtesy photo)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Congo, an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, poses for a photo in front of his car May 27, 2020, in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Congo has been a member of the Air Force Reserve for four years. (Courtesy Photo)
Sometimes, one’s enlistment to serve their country also inspires them to pursue a new career path they never previously considered.
That is exactly what happened for Staff Sgt. Timothy Congo when he enlisted into the Air Force Reserve as an aeromedical evacuation technician with the 439th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in 2016.
“Enlisting into the Air Force Reserve inspired me to pursue an entirely different career path,” said Congo. “Before enlisting, I had gotten an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, I worked security at a hospital and I wanted to become a police officer. Now, thanks to my experiences in the Air Force Reserve, I’m pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.”
As an aeromedical evacuation technician, Congo and other Airmen like him, are responsible for a variety of medical responsibilities and care of patients while in-flight on board C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. These responsibilities include monitoring in-flight vital signs, assessing injuries, starting IVs, assisting with patient care and much more.
Congo said one of his most memorable Air Force experiences was the 2019 Patriot Warrior exercise.
“What I really enjoyed about Patriot Warrior was the chance to train with joint and international partners which included the U.S. Army and Royal Air Force,” said Congo. “My favorite training experience from the exercise was participating in the process of handing off a simulated patient from an aircraft to a helicopter. The exercise in whole was an eye-opening experience that demonstrated how each member played an important role in accomplishing the mission effectively.”
When Congo is not performing aeromedical care, he trades in his Air Force flight suit for medical scrubs.
“I work as a patient care technician in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts,” said Congo. “I work closely with the nurses in the unit to provide bedside care to the cardiac patients both pre and post operation.”
As a medical worker in both his civilian and military occupations, Congo’s life was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“One the civilian side, during the initial COVID-19 outbreak I suited up to care for critical coronavirus patients in the ICU at Baystate Medical Center,” said Congo. “On the military side, I was recently brought in full time to support my unit while several members were activated in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.”
Congo credits the Air Force for his motivation to be the best that he can be.
“I take pride in wearing the uniform and I try to represent the Air Force core values in everything I do,” said Congo. “My Air Force service really motivates me to give 100% to whatever I set my mind to.”
Congo encourages others to pursue opportunities in the military, especially those in the aeromedical evacuation field.
“It’s a great way to serve our nation, see the world and help care for those in need,” said Congo.