MEDEL offers readiness training to embassy, medical personnel
By Tech. Sgt. Sonny Cohrs, Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
/ Published April 20, 2007
SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element conducted first responder and chemical/biological response training here April 17-19 for American embassy personnel and healthcare providers from Honduras.
Thirty eight students attended the class, which provided training, focusing mainly on first aid techniques, and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) readiness training, including how to don the chemical protection suit.
"I think it was excellent training," said Dr. Maritza Fuentes, a doctor assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. "It was pretty realistic, and I enjoyed it immensely," she added, regarding the "moulage" make-up that was applied to the mock patients, giving them graphic visual injuries.
Doctor Fuentes said the other healthcare providers participating in the training were excited to practice intubation on MEDEL's training mannequin. "You can't practice that in the private sector here," she said.
The Major Accident Response Exercise, or MARE, provided eight training stations for the students ranging from simulated spinal injuries and fractures to open abdominal wounds. The students, under guidance from the Airmen and Soldiers assigned to MEDEL, assessed the situation and applied the appropriate treatment.
"This was three-day training on the principles of first responders," said Maj. Marvin Hsie, the MEDEL officer in charge of operations. "We teach them how to take care of actual emergencies in the classroom, and then we have an exercise that's hands-on. For a lot of them, this will be the first time they've gone through this training."
The purpose of providing the training is so embassy and medical personnel will know what to expect in the event of an actual emergency. The training concluded with the students performing a "hot load" of patient litters onto a medical evacuation equipped UH-60 Black Hawk at the helicopter pad behind the medical element.
"To hear and read about a medevac is one thing, but to be there with the chopper is a whole different experience," said Major Hsie.
Dave Bright, an assistant regional security officer working at the embassy, said this training is exactly what a lot of the Foreign Service Nationals need, because they're the continuity for the embassy during U.S. personnel rotations.
"We identified the need for FSNs to get refresher training in first aid and CBRNE," he said. "It's a constant threat the embassy faces on a daily basis, and we try to maintain as much of a ready state as we can."
Mr. Bright said training with the military members was especially helpful because of the recent combat experience some of the Airmen and Soldiers here have.
"They bring real world experience from deployments and real life situations. All the things we wouldn't get to see here," he said.