Reserve Citizen Airmen fly critical supplies to rural Colorado hospitals

  • Published
  • 340th Flying Training Group

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-Randolph, Texas – When not providing Total Force flight training for the Air Force Academy Powered Flight Program, 70th Flying Training Squadron Reserve Citizen Airmen Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins and Maj. Sean Huss are devoting their mountain flying expertise, and volunteering their personal aircraft, to fly critical medical supplies to rural Colorado hospitals.

Hospitals nationwide are experiencing a drastic shortage of critical medical supplies in the race to care for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural hospitals and health clinics are especially vulnerable, said Cummins, who explained that more than 40 percent of Colorado’s hospitals are located in rural communities.

"Colorado’s rugged and diverse terrain can create expeditious resupply challenges," he said. "In response, the Colorado Hospital Association and charitable Angel Flight West organization partnered to acquire donated medical supplies and deliver them directly to communities in need via Colorado’s general aviation airport network."

Thanks to their combined efforts, a host of volunteer Angel Flight West pilots, such as Cummins and Huss, have performed over 70 relief flights, quickly delivering thousands of medical supplies including surgical gowns, masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, cleaning products, and a ventilator. Some delivery recipients were operating with less than a day's supply of this vital equipment.

For Citizen Airmen like Cummins and Huss, the relief flight efforts are especially meaningful.

Cummins, whose wife is an active Colorado nurse and daughter volunteers at a local hospital, is also a former emergency room registered nurse and firefighter-paramedic himself.

“Directly accessing over 80 Colorado community airports can easily turn a six-hour ground transport into a one-hour resupply flight," he said. "Through this process, these community-wide volunteer efforts can provide meaningful assistance to the first responders and healthcare workers who are sacrificing so much for us.”

Huss has an emotional tie to the operation, as well, with his mother and sister actively serving in frontline healthcare professions.

“Colorado presents a unique challenge for rapid resupply to our remote hospitals," Huss said. "But the men and women of Angel Flight West are essentially eliminating that obstacle, which means our healthcare workers won’t have to concern themselves with PPE availability. I’m extremely proud of how our communities have pulled together to support them.”