SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, –
Members of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) and 1-228th Aviation Regiment conducted a successful medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) to save the life of a six-week old infant in the Department of Gracias a Dios, Honduras, Dec. 3, 2013.
MEDEL was conducting a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), providing medical care to residents of the remote village of Auka, when the baby girl was brought in for medical treatment by her mother.
"It was the very first patient of the day," said U.S. Army Capt. Vicki English, Joint Task Force-Bravo MEDEL. "She was one of three infants in the village to have pneumonia, and the other two had already passed away. She had respiratory distress and severe pneumonia, and we quickly assessed the need for a MEDEVAC."
U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Morisoli, 1-228th C-Company Commander, was the pilot in command of the MEDEVAC helicopter, which was on standby at Mocoron, a remote Honduran military outpost in the Department of Gracias a Dios.
"When the call for a MEDEVAC came in, we quickly got the crew together, got the grid, did some map reconnaissance, checked the weather and then departed for about a 10-minute flight to the location," said Morisoli.
Upon arrival, the infant was quickly loaded into the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter for transport to the hospital in Puerto Lempira. U.S. Army Sgt. Donique Battle was the flight medic during the transport.
"The patient had respiratory distress, severe pneumonia, poor gas exchange and was severely dehydrated," said Battle. "During the flight, we put her on oxygen and monitored her until we reached the location to load her into the ambulance to get to the hospital."
U.S. Army Capt. Diane Klescewski, Joint Task Force-Bravo MEDEL, accompanied the infant on the flight as well as on the trip to the hospital.
"In the ambulance on the way to the hospital, I had to give her rescue breathing," said Klescewski. "She stopped breathing, so I gave her a couple of rescue breaths she started breathing again."
The child arrived safely at the hospital, where Honduran medical professionals were already alerted and ready to begin emergency care.
"The doctors met us in the emergency department and gave her medication, kept her on oxygen as well as started an IV, and she was stabilized," said Klescewski.
The next day, Joint Task Force-Bravo members were notified that the infant's condition had improved and that both the infant, as well as her mother, had been placed on a program that would provide them with proper nutrition in the future.
Morisoli said it's special to be part of a mission that saved a life.
"Of course, you never want there to be a need for a MEDEVAC mission, but you are glad to have the capability to be there and provide it when it is needed," said Morisoli. "Anytime we can provide that service and save a life, it's truly rewarding."