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Military team to conduct humanitarian assistance in Oceania

7/19/2007 - HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Approximately 50 Air Force, Army and Navy members will travel to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, Kiribati and Nauru July 20 to 30 to provide medical, dental and engineering support and training to local residents there. 

This mission displays the Air Force's ability to quickly deliver relief in the form of medical and civil capabilities to remote areas of the Pacific. 
This is the first time since World War II that there has been a significant U.S. military presence on those islands.

A C-17 Globemaster III from the 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., will provide the airlift, transporting teams to Kiribati, Nauru and Vanuatu where they will remain for the duration of the mission.

Twenty-eight people -- including engineers, physicians, nurses, medical technicians, dentists and dental technicians -- will work at Kiribati.

"In Kiribati we will work alongside medical personnel, dental personnel and health care administrators to deliver care to children in the remote district of Kiribati," said Lt. Col. Diep Duong of the Pacific Air Forces Surgeon General Office. "We will also work with the general hospital and nursing school to do basic life support training; and work with the ministry of public works to renovate three medical clinics."

A team of 12 people -- medical technicians, nurses, doctors, public health officers and a bioenvironmental technician -- will provide assistance to the people of Nauru. Team members will work with the ministries of health and education to implement a school physical program to screen for learning disabilities. They will also work with the ministry of health and the general hospital on diabetes and renal care for inpatient and outpatient settings, as well as provide basic life-support training. 

"We're also going to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to train about 20 to 30 Nauruan on how to safely handle and dispose of asbestos," Colonel Duong said.

The team also plans to work with the Nauru Island Association of Nongovernmental Organizations to train and equip community health workers.

About 10 people will work on Vanuatu, where they will conduct "train the trainer" education for police force, fire department and customs members on basic life support and self-aid buddy care. Other team members will work with nursing students on basic life support and with the MOH and hospital staff for training and to provide gynecological and urological surgery to local patients.

The medical, dental, engineering and other support members will come from the 15th Airlift Wing from Hickam AFB, Hawaii; the 18th Wing from Kadena Air Base, Japan; the 3rd Wing from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; the 446th AW from McChord AFB; the 35th Fighter Wing from Misawa AB, Japan; the 51st Fighter Wing from Osan AB, South Korea; the 8th Fighter Wing from Kunsan AB, South Korea; Tripler Army Medical Center; Air Force Reserve Command; the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command; the 624th Regional Support Group from Hickam AFB; and Headquarters Pacific Air Forces from Hickam AFB.

The U.S. Pacific Command has funded the humanitarian assistance program through the Asia Pacific Regional Initiative to conduct theater security cooperation and humanitarian assistance operations throughout the region. 

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