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New Horizons Medical Personnel Provide Emergency Assistance in Mass Casualty

  • Published
  • By Capt. David Murphy
  • 1st Combat Camera Squadron
U.S. Air Force medical personnel treated mass causality incident victims at the Dr. Salvador Parades Hospital in Trujillo, Honduras, Aug. 10, 2015.

The incident involved 14 Honduran army soldiers from the 15th Battalion who were injured in an explosion at their base said a Honduran army official.

The medical personnel, who were in country to provide support for the New Horizons Honduras 2015 training exercise, performed surgery on one injured soldiers and treated 10 others. One of the soldiers died on the scene while two others, who had injuries that couldn't be treated locally, were flown to a hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The U.S. Air Force Airmen who responded to the incident were Maj. Ryan Jones, 56th Medical Operations Squadron general surgeon out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Maj. Frederick Grois, 779th Medical Operations Squadron anesthesiologist out of Joint Base Andrews, Md., and Maj. Chol Kim, 88th Aerospace Medical Squadron physician assistant out Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

"The patient who appeared to be the most severe was triaged and taken to the operating room and received an exploratory laparotomy and as well as an exploration of the femoral vessel," said Jones.

The medical team, which had recently ended regular work at the hospital and were waiting to head back to the U.S., performed more than 100 surgeries, both routine and emergency, on local Hondurans throughout the duration of the New Horizons exercise.

"We do a head to toe examination, evaluation of the patient, in doing this we are trying to decipher who is the most critical patient, who needs the attention first," said Jones, "it needs to be done quickly, but it also needs to be complete. This differs from seeing someone in the clinic where patients are being referred and you are able to do a good work up and diagnose the problem and schedule the surgery electively, for a time that works best for the patient and the doctor. We approach it a little differently... but [during] triaging we do a complete physical exam."

The exact cause of the incident is still under investigation at this time.

New Horizons was launched in the 1980s and is an annual joint humanitarian assistance exercise that U.S. Southern Command conducts with a partner nation in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. The exercise improves joint training readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.