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JTF Haiti Commander Visits Killick, Praises Progress

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100126-14
Release Date: 1/26/2010 11:22:00 PM

By Lt. j.g. Rick Chernitzer, Operation Unified Response Public Affairs

KILLICK, Haiti (NNS) -- The commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Haiti visited the medical triage and treatment center in Killick, Haiti, Jan. 25 to observe the teamwork of the Sailors, Coast Guardsmen and Haitian volunteers providing care to earthquake victims.

Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, who also serves as the deputy commander of U.S. Southern Command, toured facilities at the Killick Haitian Coast Guard Base and was amazed at the diversity of people from different backgrounds and experiences and the success they had in conducting operations there.

"This is a great example of people getting together," said Keen. "It takes time to get started...but as you go along, as you get more organized, you find we are saving more and more lives every day."

The base has been used as a medical treatment center since shortly after the devastating earthquake in Haiti Jan. 12. The 7.0-magnitude quake killed up to 150,000 people by official estimates. The clinic has become a major part of Operation Unified Response, a coordinated effort to provide aid to the people of Haiti.

Keen toured the base, guided by USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Fred Wilhelm, JTF Bravo Commander, Army Col. Marie Dominguez, and Africa Partnership Station West Commander, Capt. Cindy Thebaud. Together, they walked through each step in the process of assessing, treating and helping survivors.

Lewis Lucke, the coordinator for relief efforts in Haiti for United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also toured the facility. Lucke said getting to meet the Haitians treated by the personnel at Killick was all the proof he needed that people were getting the help they needed.

"I just talked to a patient upstairs (in the recovery ward) that said he thanks God every day because he was one of the lucky ones that was able to get to this facility to receive quality care," said Lucke.

Wilhelm appreciated the opportunity to show Keen the facility and explain the work they were doing.

"We knew we were doing some good things out here, but it's always gratifying to hear it from your boss," said Wilhelm. "He had an opportunity to see my Sailors working with not only other branches of the service through JTF Bravo and the Coast Guard units, but also with Haitians and the Mexican navy medical personnel who have played a large role here."

Gunston Hall is conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations for Operation Unified Response under control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. Fourth Fleet (NAVSO/C4F). NAVSO/C4F is directing all Naval assets and personnel in support of Joint Task Force Haiti, the joint command element directing U.S. military capabilities support to USAID and the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti.

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