Queen Letizia of Spain visited the Cuatro Vientos Aerial Base to celebrate the closing of the events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first medical aerial evacuation in Spain.
On 20 April, the Queen arrived at the military base outside of Madrid, accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles, the Undersecretary of Defence, and the Chief of the Air and Space Force, Air General Javier Salto.
Her Majesty was welcomed by an honour guard before sitting down to listen to a presentation about the history and abilities of the medical transportation system, as well as explanations about its current missions.
She was then guided through a static exhibition about relics of the first medical evacuation flight, from the NH90 helicopter and C-295 aeroplane that constituted that mission to the uniforms and equipment used.
In particular, the Queen was shown the isolation chamber used at the time, which is very similar to the kind used today. This sight has become very familiar with the evacuation of Ebola patients and the desperate attempts to find open hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.
Queen Letizia also got a chance to chat with some of the Air Force Medical Evacuation Unit and listen to their stories and the challenges they face in their job before departing the military base.
The Medical Unit for Aerial Evacuation (Unidad Médica de Aeroevacuación or UMAER) was created in 2003 to “adequately respond to the challenges posed by Spanish participation in armed conflicts far away from the country, and the managing of injuries created by that which necessitated aerial repatriation.”
Since then, the UMAER was integrated into the European Air Transport Command in 2015, giving the unit a more international purpose and creating better cooperation with military allies.
Queen Letizia has long been an advocate for Spain’s medical system, and she is patron of several organisations that help with the research and development of cures for cancer and rare diseases, which also occasionally use aerial transport for patients to receive better care in more adequate or better-equipped structures.