NEWS | March 28, 2008

Joint Task Force-Bravo supports local medical emergencies

By Tech Sgt. William Farrow Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

Easter weekend quickly turned busy as Joint Task Force-Bravo supported two separate highway accidents occurring in Honduras.

Easter Sunday, JTF-Bravo was notified of a bus accident in Choluteca, Honduras. Honduran rescue personnel requested JTF-Bravo provide air evacuation of patients to hospital in the Tegucigalpa. A UH-60 Blackhawk from JTF-Bravo flew to the crash site.

Upon arrival, the JTF-Bravo team found that the worst cases of injured had already been transported to Tegucigalpa via Honduran aircraft. However, there were still injured people requiring assistance and the team provided additional medical attention to three others, loaded the three injured aboard the helicopter and administered medical care while transporting them to Hospital Escuela located more than 50 miles from the accident site.

"No matter how many MEDEVAC missions I have flown, I still get the initial rush of adrenalin. However, once I brief my crew on the mission and step into the aircraft, training takes over and the top priority becomes saving the life of our patient,"
said Army Capt. Joshua De Freitas who piloted the Blackhawk. "When we landed, our crew was quick to set up a triage location and prep all patients for the flight and the local Emergency Medical Technicians were helpful in expediting the handoff of the casualties and helping in patient assessment."

Captain De Freidas said JTF-Bravo's MEDEVAC crews train everyday for their sole mission of providing medical evacuation support and coverage to the sick and injured.
"We take tremendous pride in our mission and work very hard everyday to ensure we have a dedicated aircraft and flight crew ready to respond to any mission our command may ask of us."

On Tuesday, a JTF-Bravo team responded to the scene of a bus accident that left dozens dead. The accident happened between San Isidro and Jesus de Otoro, 93 miles west of Tegucigalpa. The JTF-Bravo rescue team included a rescue truck with five firemen, an ambulance with two medics and one physician assistant and two operations Soldiers.

Upon arrival, the JTF-Bravo team was notified that local emergency responders had the situation under control and their assistance wasn't required.

"Honduran emergency responders and medical personnel are quite capable, but occasionally overwhelming emergencies arise which are beyond their capabilities and they request our assistance" said 1st Lt. Erika Yepsen, JTF-Bravo spokesperson. "The cooperation and teamwork between the Honduran community and JTF-Bravo is first-class and when combined efforts positively impact our host nation's community, a vital piece of our mission is successful."