NEWS | Sept. 5, 2008

JTF-Bravo MEDEL participates in local surgeries

By Staff Sgt. Joel Mease Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

The Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element mobile surgery team performed two free medical operations at a local hospital Sept. 3.

The two surgeries were part of a weekly mission MEDEL performs, with one every Tuesday in La Paz and another on Wednesday in Comayagua, said Army Ma. Dominic Storto, JTF-Bravo mobile surgical team commander.

The surgeries the team performs can vary from trauma to routine, depending on what is needed from the team when they arrive, he said.

The surgeries performed in the local areas serve a few purposes. One purpose is to help support the medical community, and offer an exchange of ideas with counterparts in the hospitals here.

"Our priority, first and foremost, is to give something back and teach what techniques we know to the medical staff," said Maj. Storto, who is deployed from Ft. Bragg, N.C. "If I can teach a better or more efficient way of doing something, I know that what we've done has made an impact."

Providing an exchange of information is a bonus for other members of the team as well.

"There is definitely satisfaction knowing you introduced new ideas and ways for caring for surgical patients," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Emmrid Gilbert, MEDEL operating room technician. "I was also able to learn how the local surgeons operate and their procedures to get patients recovered 100 percent."

The other purpose for performing the local surgeries is to maintain proficiency at their job.

"It's critical to keep myself and our team up to speed in the operating room," Major Storto said. "The team has to be ready at all times for a natural disaster, where we need to able to provide services for at least five patients and be able to support operations for up to 72 hours."

While a natural disaster has not happened recently where the team has been called on to perform, it wasn't too long ago an earthquake in Peru caused a need for their services, Major Storto said.