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USS Normandy Provides Initial Humanitarian Relief to Petit Trou de Nippes, Haiti

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100125-02
Release Date: 1/25/2010 10:59:00 AM

By Ensign Adam R. Cole, USS Normandy Public Affairs

PETIT de NIPPES, Haiti (NNS) -- USS Normandy (CG 60) provided essential elements of disaster assistance and coordinated the medical evacuation of a terminally ill child in the town of Petit Trou de Nippes on Jan. 23, as part Operation Unified Response.

Normandy sent a 25-member team to Petit Trou de Nippes, which lies 70 miles from Port-au-Prince on the north coast of Haiti's "southern claw," to conduct an initial assessment of the area and establish relationships with residents, assess any structural damage and how many displaced people from Port-au-Prince were in the area.

Normandy's boat crews and assistance teams were welcomed immediately upon arrival at the town's small fishing piers. Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Maxy Baskin, a native of Haiti and fluent in the local Creole language, translated for personnel and Petit Trou de Nippes leadership to help determine their needs.

It was determined there was need for medical supplies and that one patient with Yellow Fever and possible spinal meningitis, needed to be medically evacuated to a more advanced treatment facility. The ship delivered medical supplies to include bandages and antibiotics, and evacuated the patient, an 11-year-old girl, and her mother. One of Normandy's embarked Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46 Detachment 3 "Screaming Seagulls" SH-60B's brought her to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20).

"[I felt] glad and relieved that we were able to help that girl and those people in that way…I knew that with the condition the girl was in, she wouldn't have made it long unless she was transported to somewhere that could better treat her illness," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW) Shawn Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick saw about a dozen other patients, most of whom had issues that related to the earthquake.

"I could see in the people's faces relief, just having an assurance that they were being taken care of," said Kirkpatrick.

Once it was determined that the terminally ill patient needed to be medically evacuated, the team set up a helicopter landing zone. Shortly after the perimeters of the landing zone were set, one of the "Screaming Seagulls" SH-60B's flew into the designated area to recover the patient, then subsequently brought her safely to the Comfort.

"I'm proud of the team and the shipboard support at all levels it took to make it happen," said Lt. Cmdr. Aaron DeMeyer, Normandy combat systems officer, who planned and led the mission ashore. "We're not used to this kind of mission, but we executed our tasking with compassion and professionalism. A lot of Sailors on board don't get to visibly see the tangible results of their efforts in Haiti, but these folks will bring back a sense of conditions on the ground—and will relay to their shipmates the difference we are making by our presence here."

Normandy's Commanding Officer, Capt. Jeffrey T. Griffin, expressed similar words of 'job well done.'

"I couldn't be prouder of the way my crew and my helicopter detachment has responded to every challenge they have faced since arriving off Haiti last week," said Griffin. "They continue to come up with innovative ways to provide relief to the citizens of Haiti, and really are making a difference."

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