SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras , –
Joint Task Force Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL), Joint Security Forces, and the 1-228th Aviation Regiment partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran Military to provide medical care to more than 1,500 people over two days in Tipimuna and Auka, two remote villages in the Gracias a Dios region of Honduras, during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), Dec. 15-18.
"These exercises are a great opportunity to work with various units of Joint Task Force-Bravo in conjunction with our Honduran Counterparts," said U.S. Army Maj. John Ritter, the commander for this mission.
The care for the patients included classes on hygiene, nutrition and preventive dental care. MEDEL, along with our Honduran partners, also provided dental care, wellness checkups, and medications, as well as performed some minor medical procedures.
JTF-Bravo was able to work together in the successful medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) of a severely dehydrated mother suffering from postpartum depression and a 2-day-old baby with sepsis, an infected umbilical cord that was developing into a life threating condition.
"It was rather remarkable that with the support of 1-228th Aviation Regiment, we were able to MEDEVAC the newborn and his mother from the MEDRETE site to Puerto Lempira Hospital in about an hour," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Brian Coleman.
Besides being in a remote area of the country where the predominant language is Miskito and not Spanish, MEDEL and our Honduran counterparts were able to bridge the language gaps going from English to Spanish to Miskito and back. "We had some Honduran civilians and Honduran military members that stepped up and helped us have a successful mission. This was a real joint effort for all the parties involved," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joe-Michael Mayo, the non-commissioned officer in-charge of the MEDRETE.
MEDEL is made up of 65 Army personnel who have come together from all over the United States. MEDEL provides preventive medical care, wellness checkups, dental care, preventive dental care, surgical care and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua and through MEDRETEs, which are carried out on a weekly basis.
Joint Task Force-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs throughout Central America each year in support of U.S. Southern Command's humanitarian and disaster relief programs in order to strengthen civil-military cooperation between the United States and nations in the region.