NEWS | Nov. 18, 2009

Supply distribution mission transitions to medical relief

By Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element begins its Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, Thursday, Nov. 19 in Guadalupe, El Salvador.

MEDEL personnel are conducting a MEDCAP disaster relief in support of Ministry of Health and Ministry of Defense for the benefit of Salvadorans affected by the flooding and mudslides that occurred here on Nov. 8.

The MEDCAP is scheduled to run from Nov. 19 to 23 and will support the following towns on the respective dates: Guadalupe on Nov. 19, San Diego and Melara on Nov. 20, San Emigdio on Nov. 21 and San Marcelino and Isetas on Nov. 22.

MEDEL personnel brought 1,760 pounds of medical supplies with them for distribution during the MEDCAP. Some of the medical care that will be provided is health and hygiene education, treatment for common parasites, H1N1 screening, screening for illnesses, immunizations, general primary care and some minor dental care.

"Our main focus is going to be primary care and preventative medicine," said Dr. Guillermo Saenz, Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element liaison officer. "With all the supplies we have with us we should be able to treat approximately 500 patients a day for the next four days."

According to Dr. Saenz there will be about 20 doctors available during the MEDCAP to include host nation providers, Ministry of Health providers and the JTF-Bravo physicians.

He also said there will be several psychiatrists on site to help people with possible post-traumatic stress from anything they might have experienced during the disaster.

"The beginning of this MEDCAP marks a transition from the disaster relief distribution mission to medical relief mission operating within El Salvador," said Lt. Col. Curtis Anderson, mission commander. "However, even with the transition we will still maintain a support capacity if additional requirements arise."

The first phase of distributing vital supplies throughout El Salvador began Nov. 12. During that time four Joint Task Force-Bravo helicopters helped distribute more than 372,400 pounds of relief supplies, which provided lifesaving food and water for many villages completely cut off by the mudslides that damaged many roads and bridges throughout the area.

"The team was able to step up to every challenge that was asked of us," Colonel Anderson said. "We provided vital assistance with combined operations and close coordination with all partners involved in order meet all of our distribution objectives. This was an exceptional team effort and we have done an amazing job here."

"I would like to congratulate the Armed Forces for the work they are carrying out throughout El Salvador," said Army Lt. Gen. P. K. Keen, U.S. Southern Command military deputy commander. "We are proud to be able to help and contribute through Southern Command's Joint Task Force Bravo's personnel and helicopters in the assistance projects that, up to this date, have transported more than 370,000 pounds of relief supplies, food and water to over half a dozen of the most affected communities."