“Aeromedical,” a documentary by Quinnipiac University School of Communications Professor Rebecca Abbott and Tim Malloy, a former television journalist who is now an assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, has been nominated for an Emmy award by the Boston/New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Abbott, of Hamden, and Malloy, of Fairfield, co-produced and co-directed the 28-minute documentary about the life-and-death struggle that takes place every week in the skies above Europe on Aeromedical evacuation missions, and about the storied history of these life-saving flights. Bradley O’Connor, a veteran cameraman and Quinnipiac alumnus, served as associate producer and camera person for the film and is included on the Emmy nomination.
“It’s a medical story and it’s a story of courage. It’s not a political story,” said Malloy, who also served as writer for the project. “The military does an amazing job of taking care of you when you’re hurt.”
In the 30 years Malloy spent working as a journalist, he traveled to Afghanistan nine times. His work has earned five Emmy awards and more than 25 nominations, but Malloy says this one is different. “This is really important. It’s a nomination that means a lot.”
Abbott says she welcomed the opportunity to shed light on a little-known aspect of the war. “[The crews] were really glad that we were telling this story,” she said. “They thanked us for being so positive in our approach.”
The United States Air Force regularly runs aeromedical evacuation missions carrying wounded soldiers from battlegrounds in America’s current conflicts to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, often within hours of their injury on the battlefield. From there, the most seriously wounded–many are amputee victims of IED explosions–are transported to major military hospitals in the US, where they can arrive in as few as three days of their initial injury. The survival rate is an astounding 98 percent.
This was not always the case, however. It has taken nearly 100 years of effort, starting in 1918 with the first aeromedical rescue in a Curtis JN-4H Jenny bi-plane, to perfect this combination of medicine and aviation. Missions now take place on C-17, C130 and KC135 military transport aircraft that have been converted into flying trauma wards.
The documentary is a story both of the heroism of soldiers who have risked their lives on the battlefield, and of the doctors, nurses, technicians, and aviation crews, many of them women and 88 percent of them members of the National Guard and Reserves.
“For me, the greatest part is that these people are serving their country by saving lives,” Abbott said.
“Aeromedical” was filmed between June and December of 2011 and released in April 2012. Location shoots took place in June and November of 2011 at Bagram Air Force Base and Gazni in Afghanistan; at Ramstein AFB and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; and Andrews AFB in Virginia. The crew spent 36 hours shooting footage aboard military transport aircraft. The documentary also includes archival film of the history of aeromedical evacuation, made available by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony on June 1 in Boston.