NEWS | Sept. 14, 2010

MEDEL treats ambassador after car accident

By Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Rojek Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The U.S. ambassador to Honduras was treated for minor injuries at the Medical Element clinic here after a car accident Sept. 10.

Ambassador Hugo Llorens suffered chest wall contusions after his vehicle was struck by a bus while en route to San Pedro Sula; his bodyguard and driver also both suffered minor injuries.

The medical professionals of MEDEL were participating in the Joint Task Force-Bravo Run the morning of Sept. 10 when the call came in that the Mr. Llorens was at the base gate needing medical assistance. Dr. (Col.) Michael Friedman saw the MEDEL ambulance driving past the runners and sprinted to the clinic. Shortly after, Maj. Maria Graves and Capt. Denise Hamilton, both of MEDEL, went to the base gate to check on the patients.

"One of our nurses went out to field where everyone huddled after the run and called for medics," Dr. Friedman said. "In about two minutes we had everyone (at the clinic)."

The ambassador and his bodyguard were the first to arrive at the clinic in the ambulance. The medics at the gate had put the Mr. Llorens in a cervical collar to keep his neck from moving, as well as strapped him to a backboard. Dr. (Lt. Col.) Michael Hoilein and Dr. Friedman immediately began assessing each man's injuries.

"The person running the bed is like a conductor," Dr. Friedman said. "You orchestrate what you want done."

After running all necessary tests, including blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound of the ambassador's stomach to check for internal bleeding, both Mr. Llorens and his body guard were released with just pain medication. Although the men's injuries were minor, the MEDEL professional's teamwork ensured that the ambassador and his staff were able to quickly return to their mission, Dr. Friedman said.

Not only did their teamwork play a factor in that day's mission success, but also the diversity of the expertise in MEDEL, he added. Having people such as a family practice doctor and a cardiac unit nurse working side-by-side only adds to the versatility of the unit. From remote villages in El Salvador to a fully equipped clinic on base, the MEDEL team gets the mission done.

"In the civilian sector, you can't take a group as diverse as this and have them do as well us," Dr. Friedman said. "We're trained to manage beyond our little kingdoms. That is the neatest thing about military medicine."