About 50 pilots, medics and mechanics from the California National Guard are being deployed to Afghanistan. They will support Operation Enduring Freedom as one of 15 Army medical evacuation units.
Captain Todd Bonner is a pilot from Sunnyvale. This will be his third tour, "If moms and dads are willing to send their sons over there to defend the nation, it's our job to be ready to go over there and do our best to bring them back. So we go out and we'll recruit the best medics that we can find. We've got these firefighters and paramedics we recruit from the local agencies here that do it every day, so when they go over there they bring those skills that the soldiers deserve."
The Guard is proud of the increasing response time and decrease in fatalities. Sylvester Wilson is from Rancho Cordova. He says the original Army medevac units were horse-and-buggy types in the Civil War. Survival rates were maybe 40 percent, "(Now,) there's a 90 percent rate of guys who are picked up from the battlefield who get to come back home and actually return to duty. So, our job is important to get those guys back, whether it be American or even Allied forces, we're going to get those guys to help."
This is the first deployment for Specialist Ryan Waller. He grew up in Aromas near Hollister. Now, he's an ambulance medic in Oakland.
"In my day job, we see a lot more of the medical patients, and not so much of the traumas, so we're expecting more traumas. But as far as patient care, we're gonna take the civilian model -what we've been doing out in the field and bring it into the military.