NEWS | Sept. 15, 2009

Medical exercise concludes in remote Costa Rica; nearly 400 treated

By Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A two-day Medical Readiness and Training Exercise, or MEDRETE, concluded here Sept. 12, after bringing necessary medical care and supplies to more than 375 villagers from the remote Turrialba region of this Central American nation.

A combined team of more than 30 representatives of Joint Task Force-Bravo -- based at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras -- and the Costa Rican Ministry of Health delivered the care and supplies after months of planning and coordination.

Treating ailments ranging from cold and flu-like symptoms to chronic bronchitis and early stages of pneumonia, the U.S. and Costa Rican medics also offered preventive medicine education, vitamins and immunizations to patients.

The acting U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, Charge'd' Affairs Peter Brennan, visited the site of the MEDRETE on its second day.

"We at the Embassy conduct official diplomacy and try to also reach out to society in general. But efforts like this reach out directly to people in needy communities - getting to people where they live," Mr. Brennan said. "In the end, that's what helps people appreciate the United States more and see that we truly care about their health and education. It shows that the democratic system does deliver the goods."

At the request of the Costa Rican government and in coordination with the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Military Group, and the Costa Rican Ministry of Health, Joint Task Force-Bravo sent medical and command and control members, three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and crews, and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter and its crew to aid in the effort to reach populations unreachable by road since massive flooding destroyed a key bridge last year.

"We value enormously the activities and materials Joint Task Force-Bravo brings to the effort, but especially the spirit and partnership evident through the coordination between the various agencies involved," the acting Ambassador said. "A mission like this helps us develop further close links and goodwill between nations."