Army medics at work in Haiti relief effort
For the Fort Bragg, N.C.-based enlisted medical personnel assigned to the Joint Task Force â€“Haiti, Operation Unified Response has been a tremendous learning experience and training opportunity.
“Our medics have been working with nongovernmental organizations, seeing 100 – 300 patients per day,” said Command Sgt. Maj. James Westover, senior enlisted adviser, 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
When the squadron first arrived, they assisted with the disaster relief, but “the injuries that we are seeing now are not earthquake related injuries but normal routine care,” said Westover.
“Our medics have been performing amazingly, they are getting the training and experience with the NGO doctors â€“ the experience and the lessons that they are learning, you could not pay for back in the States,” said Westover. “It has been amazing; it would take years for someone to learn all that they have learned here in this small amount of time.”
“They work hard, running day and night. It is a busy operation, but they are sticking through it. They feel a great level of accomplishment because they are down here helping people,” he said.
“Our medical knowledge has grown tremendously especially in the field of pharmacology,” said Pfc. Cameron Turk, a medic also with the 1/73rd “We are seeing the benefits of our work and seeing how it is helping those patients who return to us.”
“When we see that which we are doing is really helping people, it makes us feel better about that job that we do and we are seeing our training has been thorough,” said Turk. “When we get to Iraq we know that we’ll do a great job.”
The humanitarian mission here is a change-of-pace from the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan.
“In Iraq or Afghanistan you have improvised explosive device blasts, gunshots, and trauma, but here it is different,” said Sgt. Maj. Vincent Bond, chief medical noncommissioned officer, JTF-H. “The types of injuries our medics are treating here are different from those on the battlefield.”
“Our medical department personnel are getting a lot of hands-on training with other types of traumatic injuries and even obstetrical issues,” said Bond.
“These are experiences that our medics would probably never have been able to see in any other environment,” said Bond. “They are seeing amputations, secondary infections, and the training value that they are getting out of this will help them tremendously.”
The education that medical personnel receive at the U.S. Army Medical Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, provides the building blocks of medical knowledge, upon which unit level and on-the-job training builds upon. Humanitarian and disaster relief deployments however, provide much-needed, hands-on training that usually cannot be acquired in the garrison environment.
“Our medics have been training and training in garrison,” said 1st Lt. Kelly Collins, executive officer, Company C, 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division. “We have a lot of new medics without combat experience, and this is a really good training. They will be able to pass this knowledge on to the newer medics who come after them.”“Any opportunity we have to use our hands or watch someone work is an opportunity to learn,” said Sgt. Christopher Johnson, a senior medic with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division. “This is really nice for our medics to get hands-on experience before they get deployed, he said. “This is a good opportunity for my younger medics to see more clinical time, to see more diseases, infections and being able to treat those.”
Medical personnel have also been out working with local communities setting up clinics, providing support to hospitals and easing logistical challenges.
“We are providing our type of world-class healthcare to the local community here,” said Johnson.
“This is a really great experience for us, after being deployed to Iraq it is really wonderful to get out and interact with the people and help them as much as we can, without all the healthcare being trauma related,” said Johnson.
“Most of the work that we are doing here, with the local community, is not related to the earthquake,” said Johnson. “We are treating people who haven’t had the opportunity to have any type of healthcare.”
“We are letting them know that the Americans are here to support them, however long they may need us,” he said.
In this joint environment, with the different uniformed forces working together with civilian agencies – both foreign and domestic, has provided a valuable lesson in cooperation.
“It is a tragedy what happened here, but it is amazing how, not only the USA responded but the other nations as well,” said Bond. “There are many different people helping out, with the main goal to be humanitarian assistance and medical care to the earthquake victims here in Haiti.”
“Anytime you have different military resources in one small area and you have to work together, it can be very challenging, but it is going very well here,” said Bond.
“I have learned a lot, working with the different services,” said Sgt. Rudy Nunez, a medic also assigned to Co. C, 407th BSB, “especially dealing with patient transfers and the different kinds of aircraft configurations.”
From the most seasoned senior medical NCO to the newest 68-series Soldier, the U.S. Army Medical Corps has more than 180 reasons to be proud of the work that is being done here.
“The Army runs in a chaotic environment, and Army medical personnel thrive and make sense of that chaos,” said Bond.
“If anything good is coming out of this, it is that our service members are getting the opportunity to train and see what happens in natural disasters so that in the future, when we have to respond, we will have trained personnel who will be able to understand what needs to be done,” said Bond.
The devastation caused by the earthquake “is one of those things that you hope will never happen again – but tragedy will eventually strike and when it does, we are now more skillfully trained to assist in these situations,” said Bond.
“Everyone is doing a phenomenal job,” said Bond. “They are not only supporting the people of Haiti, but they are also supporting each other â€“ and that is the key here.”
Story by Spc. A.M. LaVey
Table of contents for Haiti quake 2010
- Massive earthquake strikes Haiti
- Earthquake in Haiti – aftershocks continue
- Haiti earthquake aid
- Haiti quake damages pile up
- Horror in Haiti – the morning after the quake
- U.S. quickly responds to Haiti quake
- Infrastructure hurdles to Haiti quake relief
- U.S. Coast Guard on location in Haiti right now
- Strong aftershocks continue in Haiti
- PR Guard standing by – Gitmo damaged by Haiti quake
- Paras and Marines on alert for Haiti move
- Earthquake in Haiti update for January 13 evening
- Earthquake in Haiti – January 14 morning update
- Marines ready to assist Haiti after earthquake
- Earthquake in Haiti – Update for January 14 evening
- FEMA report on Haiti relief efforts for January 15
- Out of the night sky – Air Force secures Port-au-Prince airport
- Earthquake in Haiti – January 15 evening
- Haiti Quake Relief Funding Numbers
- But people are dying – thoughts on the Haitian disaster
- Aftershocks continue to rock Haiti
- Earthquake in Haiti – Update for January 16
- Haiti Quake Relief Funding Numbers for Jan 16
- Hospital ship Comfort sails for Haiti
- Baby delivered during Haiti evacuation
- Navy is delivering supplies to Haiti victims
- Hospital ship Comfort racing to Haiti
- Country club serves as forward base for Paras in Haiti
- Situation at Port-au-Prince airport improving
- Sanjay Gupta Assists Vinson Medical Team in Haiti
- USAID Update on the Haiti relief operation January 18
- Air drop to aid Haitian victims of earthquake
- Haiti Quake Relief Funding Numbers for Jan 18
- Earthquake in Haiti – morning update January 19
- Los Angeles rescuers save Haitian woman
- Stories from Haiti – update for Jan 20 morning
- American volunteers in Haiti
- American donations for Haiti earthquake relief – Jan 21
- Haiti earthquake relief update for Jan 21
- Haitians receiving care and support aboard Bataan
- Hospital ship Comfort healing, hugging Haitians
- Brief update on Navy and Marine relief efforts in Haiti Jan 23
- Fort Hood veterinary services unit sent to Haiti
- Harbor damage in Port-au-Prince
- American giving for Haiti relief as of January 25
- Comparison of Haiti donations to Katrina and the tsunami
- Haitian Coast Guard base becomes hub for quake relief
- Comparison of Haiti donations to Katrina and the tsunami Jan 28
- High tech warbird aids Haiti relief efforts
- High-speed ferrys en route to Haiti
- Southern Command briefs on Haiti situation
- Paras opening roads in Haiti
- Aid from Dominican Republic via Kentucky National Guard
- Haitian assistance stories for February 3
- Haitian relief efforts slow
- Marine calls Leogane Haiti home
- Haiti earthquake relief update for February 7
- Army medics at work in Haiti relief effort
- Haiti earthquake relief funding update for February 14
- Keeping Haitians informed
- A tent means a lot to Haitian orphans
- Italian troops aid paras in Haiti rubble clearance
- Landslide in Haiti tests Special Ops rescuers
- Navy and Marines bridge Haitian divide from government
- Haitian earthquake relief – update for February 28
- Haitian earthquake update – March 4
- Air Guard Engineers Help Haitians
- Things are baaaaad in Haiti
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