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Joint medical team provides caring hands for Haiti effort

Feb 16, 2010

By 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti - Twenty-three members of Joint Task Force - Bravo's Medical Element finished a 28-day deployment to Haiti Feb. 14 after being called-upon to provide emergency medical services after the Jan. 12 earthquake here.

The team deployed from Honduras via air on Jan. 17 in support of Joint Task Force Haiti and to provide immediate assistance to Haitians in need of urgent medical care in and around the town of Killick on the coast west of Port Au Prince.

"When we arrived Lt. Gen. Keen basically asked us to go to Killick and see how we could help," said Col. Marie Dominguez, commander of JTF-B Medical Element. "When we arrived in Killick, there were 5000 patients waiting to be seen," she added.

Beginning Jan. 18, the 23-member element conducted 90 surgeries, evacuated over 400 patients and saw an average of over 39 patients each day. Added Dominguez, "We never had to ask why we were in Haiti - we saw it every day."

For the Honduras-based team, it was not only a rewarding mission but one they were uniquely organized to accomplish. The 23-member element was comprised of a mobile surgery team, treatment team, patient holding team and an additional team of four medics.

After arriving in Killick, the element established operations at the local Haitian Coast Guard base. Even for the experienced joint team of Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen, the conditions were tough. A lack of supplies and life support made partnering with other services and international military essential for survival.

While stationed at Killick, the medical team worked with Sri Lankan Soldiers, Mexican Sailors, and Columbian Soldiers to accomplish the mission. They also relied on routine resupply and life support from the USS Gunston Hall and other U.S. Navy vessels.

"In addition to helping us with our patient laundry, every three days the Gunston Hall would resupply us and invite seven of our team to come aboard for showers and laundry," said Dominguez. Additionally, the element commander stated Beachmasters from the Gunston Hall also helped contribute to the mission by providing critical security at their medical facility.

While initially falling directly under JTF-H for command and control, the JTF-B medical element eventually found itself working under Joint Logistics Command - Haiti. On their last night in Haiti, JLC Deputy Commander Jarrold Reeves thanked the element for their hard work and presented coins to four deserving servicemembers. "We in the JLC thank you and I know if the Haitian people you helped could be here - they'd thank you," stated Reeves.

Photos and story by Maj. Paul Hayes and 3d Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) public affairs. For queries, contact 3d Sustainment Command Public Affairs at (502) 624-8601. For high-resolution photos and stories by the 3d Sustainment Command, please contact the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System at (678) 421-6612 or access them online at http://www.dvidshub.net/units/3sce.

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