NEWS | Nov. 11, 2007

JTF-Bravo medics provide care in Dominican Republic

By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Two Expeditionary Medical Liaison Teams from Joint Task Force-Bravo deployed 19 servicemembers to the villages of Paya and Valdesia in the Dominican Republic Nov. 10.

The EMLTs set up makeshift clinics in the towns where local citizens could receive preventative medical advice, prescription medicine and physician consults if necessary. Overall, approximately 1,250 pounds of supplies and medicine were delivered by the two teams, who saw a combined total of 608 patients on the first day and expect to see approximately 150 more during a return trip to Paya Nov. 11.

"There were about 30 families in Paya we weren't able to see today," said Air Force Capt. Tracie Swingle, the EML officer in charge. "Most of the families we see consist of about five people."

The medical team arrived in the Dominican Republic Nov. 9 as U.S. Army South disaster relief operations were drawing to a close. The team consisted of 13 medics, nurses, physician's assistants and doctors from the JTF-Bravo Medical Element based at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras.

"The EML missions are a follow-up to the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief American and British forces have been providing the island nation in response to the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Noel in early November," Captain Swingle said.

The medical team from JTF-Bravo joined forces with Soldiers from USARSO, 1st Battalion-228th Aviation Regiment which deployed to the Dominican Republic from Soto Cano Nov. 5.

Army Col. Ricardo R. Riera, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, USARSO, said the team has augmented the ongoing medical support provided by the Dominican Armed Forces and local organizations to the displaced citizens.

"We are extremely happy to be able to continue providing assistance to our partner nation," he said.

Air Force 1st Lt. Damian Garza, a physician's assistant with the team that went to Paya, said most of the patients they saw had minor medical issues, such as skin and respiratory problems.

"There has been a lot of scabies, coughs and colds," he said. "There hasn't been anything too critical. I saw one patient with diabetes, but that's about it."

The lieutenant said the patients covered the complete age spectrum, from infants to geriatrics. He added they all received multivitamins and most were given anti-parasitic medications.

Air Force Maj. Donnell Nicks, a nurse with the JTF-Bravo team, said the trip to Paya was one of the most rewarding experiences she's ever had.

"It's an incredible feeling knowing so many families are coming to us for help," she said. "It's nice to know we're actually doing good things for these people who may not be able to get this treatment elsewhere."

Other USARSO relief missions are being carried out in the area and are expected to continue for the next several days.