Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Herrington, Joint Task Force Bravo, provides an oral deworming agent to a child during the second day of the Nicaragua MEDRETE in Wapi, Nicaragua, Aug. 17. Herrington was working with public health officials to distribute vitamins and pre-natal supplements to villagers. (Official photo by Tech. Sgt. Brannen Parrish)
Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Herchler, physicians assistant, examines a child during the first day of the MEDRETE in Wapi, Nicaragua, Aug. 17. During the medical readiness exercise, medical personnel provided care to nearly 1500 patients. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Brannen Parrish)
by Tech Sgt. Brannen Parrish
JTF-Bravo Public Affairs
8/20/2012 - MANAGUA, NICARAGUA -- United States military personnel from Joint Task Force Bravo, with assistance from the United States Embassy in Nicaragua and Nicaragua's Ministry of Health, completed the first of a two-day Medical Readiness Training Exercise in Wapí, Nicaragua August 16-17.
Medical, dental and support personnel set up a temporary medical and dental clinic at a local elementary school to conduct public health classes and provide treat patients.
"During the public health classes we gave them vitamins, de-worming solutions and prenatal vitamins," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Herrington, JTF-Bravo. "The classes focused on proper hand-washing and why it's important to wash your hands."
During the two-day MEDRETE, the public health section distributed more than 1200 bags of health care items.
Nearly 1500 patients were screened and treated by the multi-national team members, while the dental section extracted teeth from more than 131 patients.
"We should be pleased with what we accomplished," said Army Lt. Col. Bart Diaz, Medical Element Commander. "We worked really well with the host nation's service providers and increased our numbers from the first day to the second day."
According to Army Captain Amanda Carnes, flight surgeon, 2nd Battalion, 28th Aviation Regiment, the final tally of patients who were screened and treated were higher than she anticipated.
"I was amazed when I heard our final numbers," said Carnes. "We had a steady flow of patients but I didn't realize we saw so many."
There are several mission objectives to MEDRETES, to include providing U.S. military personnel training in delivering medical care in austere conditions, promoting diplomatic relations between the U.S. and host nations in Central America, and providing humanitarian and civic assistance via a long-term proactive program.
JTF-Bravo members who participate in MEDRETEs often find the events to be some of the most rewarding experiences of their career. According to Air Force Senior Airman Muhammed Ahmed, who helped fill prescriptions at the pharmacy, the MEDRETE provided him with deeper insights about developing nations.
"Knowing that there are people out there who are less fortunate than we are, and being able to go out and help them is definitely a blessing," said Ahmed. "I honestly didn't see myself ever being in another country doing something like this but it's definitely something I'd like to do more often. To come here and see people who don't have a percentage of what you have makes you appreciate it more."