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News | Feb. 29, 2008

Joint Task Force-Bravo assists in local medical emergency

By Tech. Sgt. John Asselin Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

Joint Task Force-Bravo assisted a local hospital after a civilian truck transporting approximately 30 people rolled over outside Comayagua, Honduras, on Feb. 26.
Four patients were transported from Hospital Santa Teresa in Comayagua to Soto Cano Air Base by the JTF-Bravo Medical Element team. They were stabilized and three transported by U.S. helicopter and one by Honduran helicopter to Hospital Esceula in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. 

A MEDEL surgical team partnering with civilian surgeons in the Comayagua area learned of the accident and immediately went to the hospital to assist. 

According to Air Force Maj. Susan Perry, MEDEL nurse anesthetist, they arrived at the hospital and assisted with the mass casualty triage. 

"When we got to the hospital, there were patients, plus family and media everywhere," she said. "Because of the sheer volume of injured (people), we didn't know who had been triaged, so we started at one end of the hall and worked our way down assisting the (Honduran) hospital staff with assessing the patients." 

Two MEDEL ambulances with crews were dispatched from Soto Cano Air Base to assist with triage and transport patients. 

After working with the Honduran military and local hospital staff, MEDEL and Honduran ambulance crews transported four patients to Soto Cano to prepare them for air evacuation to the hospital in Tegucigalpa. 

As soon as the initial call came in, MEDEL staff began assembling and preparing the hospital to receive the patients. 

"We weren't sure exactly how many patients we would be receiving," said Air Force 2nd Lt. Zachery Kalinauskas, MEDEL registered nurse. "So we activated the entire staff to prepare for the worst case. Once the patients began arriving, the team responded superbly and everything worked exactly the way it should." 

According to Army Lt. Col. Michael Hancewicz, MEDEL deputy commander, the value of MEDEL's training and drills showed. 

"The teamwork was phenomenal," Colonel Hancewicz said. "The medics, the nurses, the X-ray techs, the lab techs and providers worked smoothly and seamlessly on each patient to insure each were stabilized and ready for transport. 

"Due to the cooperative efforts of both Honduran and U.S. professionals, and the expeditious treatment and care provided, all patients successfully arrived in Tegucigalpa," Colonel Hancewicz said.