NEWS | Jan. 28, 2010

JTF-Bravo medical team provides care to nearly two thousand in Haiti

By 1st Lt. Jen Richard Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element personnel are at the front lines of the humanitarian assistance mission in Haiti, having provided medical care to nearly two thousand people since deploying there Jan. 17 in support of Operation Unified Response.

The team of 23 JTF-Bravo MEDEL members has provided emergency medical treatment to 1,407 patients, conducted 31 surgeries, medically evacuated 379 people and delivered two babies.

"Our MEDEL personnel are seeing a whole spectrum of medical needs there," said Army Lt. Col. Joe Bray, acting JTF-B MEDEL Commander, who has been in touch with the team in Haiti. "It is a challenge for them to deal with a wide variety of patients in such an austere environment, but I know it is rewarding for them to be making a difference in Haiti to those who are in need."

The medical team is providing life-saving medical care to patients in a very difficult environment, due to the devastation caused by the Jan. 12 earthquake and its aftershocks. Their clinic does not have running water, and it is a struggle to arrange for clean laundry and to restock supplies, Colonel Bray said. Once, a medic even used an unhinged door to carry a patient into the clinic because they had run out of litters.

"This mission is a testament to the dedication of our MEDEL personnel," said Lt. Col. Brian Severns, JTF-Bravo Deputy Commander. "I am proud of them for tackling the many challenges they face in Haiti and using their medical skills to help in the disaster relief efforts."

Providing care to masses of patients in austere environments is nothing new to JTF-Bravo's medical personnel. MEDEL members regularly participate in medical readiness and training exercises throughout Central America, providing medical care to hundreds of patients daily in rural Central America villages.

Medical Element personnel most recently participated in a medical readiness and training exercise in El Salvador, Dec. 14-15, following heavy rains and flooding that devastated the country last November. During the two-day medical clinic there, JTF-Bravo's MEDEL team assisted in providing free medical care to more than 1,300 Salvadoran villagers.

With the continuation of Operation Unified Response, JTF-Bravo's MEDEL personnel are ready to stay in Haiti for as long as they are needed.

"The MEDEL team deployed with over 51,000 pounds of medical equipment and supplies," said Colonel Bray, "and they immediately began supporting the disaster relief efforts by providing medical care to the people of Haiti once they were in place."