Medical Readiness Training Exercises
United States military personnel from Joint Task Force-Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, have been conducting medical readiness training exercises since Oct. 1993. Since that time, they have executed more than 300 missions and treated more than 341,400 medical patients and 69,670 dental patients.
These exercises, commonly called MEDRETEs, support thousands of people in Central America and the Caribbean. MEDRETEs also support humanitarian and civic assistance operations to enhance U.S. and Central American relations, and support and conduct medical training with host nation military forces as well as government and civilian organizations.
There are several mission objectives to MEDRETES, including providing U.S. military personnel training in delivery of 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. These exercises bring together key members of the U.S. and foreign militaries, U.S. Embassy Country Teams, Non-Governmental Organizations, Host Nation government agencies and local civilian organizations.
In order to conduct MEDRETEs personnel from active, guard, and reserve components of the U.S. military work side-by-side with their foreign counterparts, which may include host nation Ministry of Health representatives, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Education, non-governmental organizations, bilingual school volunteer translators and a variety of community members.
In addition to MEDRETEs, Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element conducts numerous outreach programs to build relationships within the host nation medical community, build partner capacity and maintain the skills of its medical providers. These efforts include surgical skills training for the Mobile Surgical Team (MST) in Honduran hospitals, as well as subject matter expert exchanges in Ministry of Health facilities, in medical disciplines such as Physical Therapy and Community Health, allowing MEDEL medical providers to teach as well as learn from their counterparts.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the most common cases seen during a general MEDRETE?
Primary medical care, which includes respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological issues and tropical diseases; dental care with acute infections and extractions; as well as preventive medicine education, health assessments and de-worming.
Are MEDRETEs conducted only in Honduras or are they also done in other countries in Central America?
JTF-Bravo routinely conducts MEDRETES in all Central American countries at the request of their governments.
Does the Ministry of Health or any other host nation authority support the MEDRETE?
Yes, the Ministry of Health provides physicians, nurses, licensed practitioner nurses, technicians, health promoters, space at their clinics and hospitals to evaluate and treat patients, ward admission capabilities, equipment sterilization support, and more.
What type of support does JTF-Bravo receive from the villages where the MEDRETEs are held?
The villages provide space at the schools, churches or community centers to see patients, and community leaders laso help with promoting the mission.
What is the most valuable part of theses medical exercises?
The most valuable part of a MEDRETE for deplyed units is that it gives them a real readiness experience, as well as medical and surgical skills training under austere conditions in remote areas. For the host nation, MEDRETEs provide health education, disease prevention training and personal and professional exchanges.
What are the most common cases seen during specialty MEDRETEs?
OPHTHALMOLOGY - Cataract, strabismus, reconstructive orbital and lid surgery.
UROLOGY-Urethra stricture reconstruction, urinary tract stones, tumors, pediatric congenital urinary tract malformations, trauma, female incontinence.
OTOLARYNGOLOGY- Tympanic membrane reconstruction, mastoidectomies to control chronic middle and inner ear infections, hearing aids, trauma surgery.
PEDIATRIC ORTHOPEDICS- Correcting hip dysphasia, chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis), acute trauma, clubfoot, congenital malformations.
HAND SURGERY- Acute and old hand injuries including nerve, tendon and bone reconstruction, occupational therapy, congenital hand malformations.
DENTAL- Crowns, spacers, pediatric dentistry, sealants.
PEDIATRIC NUTRITION- Nutritional assessments, pediatric care in respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological and tropical diseases.
GENERAL SURGERY- Acute trauma, surgical emergencies, gallbladder disease, hernias, gastric tumors, thyroid diseases, tonsillectomies, general surgery cases.