News: Medics keep members of Task Force Panama ready for duty
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Walter Van Ochten
COLON, Panama - The medics working at the Battalion Aid Station (BAS) located here have treated more than 300 patients during their two-month deployment in support of Beyond the Horizons-Panama 2013.
“The most common injuries being treated are sunburns and skin rashes,” said Capt. Kevin Nash, the officer in charge of the task force’s BAS. “In addition to the rashes and sunburns, we’ve treated individuals for upper-respiratory infections, lacerations and diabetes.”
Stateside, Nash is a family nurse practitioner and member of the 256th Combat Support Hospital, an Army Reserve unit based out of Ohio.
The Battalion Aid Station is the work place for a number of rotational medics who receive training in a real-world environment. Nash is one of two durational soldiers serving during the entire Beyond the Horizons-Panama 2013 exercise.
In addition to the service members from the United States who man the BAS, there is one Panamanian medic that works Monday through Friday. This individual rotates out and is replaced by another Panamanian medic every two months.
One of those Panamanians working with Nash at the BAS is Sgt. 1st Class Frankie Arauza, paramedic for the department of medicine of the Panamanian Servicio Nacional Aeronaval.
“It has been perfect. The Americans have taught me a lot to include new techniques. I have learned about medications, and new IV techniques. The Americans have provided medical attention to my patients as well as provided medicine to the clinic. I have nothing negative to say, everything has been a good experience,” said Arauza.
One of the challenges of the BAS has been trying to build confidence and a good rapport with the large number of rotational soldiers and airmen who come through during their annual training, said Nash.
The BAS sends medics to all the engineering project sites and Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) sites that Task Force Panama is running. Currently, the BAS sends out medics to each of the two construction sites and the MEDRETE site, said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hogan, an Ohio Army Reservist who is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Battalion Aid Station.
“At one of the MEDRETE sites, a Panamanian woman was diagnosed and treated for a rare form of platelet leukemia,” said Hogan. “If that woman wasn’t treated, she could’ve bled to death if she suffered a laceration or even a menstrual cycle.”
Of the 300 patients treated, the BAS has also treated approximately 50 Panamanian nationals.
“As for the (patients) we’ve treated, we’ve been blessed to not have seen many serious injuries during our time here,” said Nash. “I believe that’s a direct result of how much safety has been stressed by the Task Force.”
BTH-Panama 2013 is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored, U.S. Army South-led joint training, humanitarian and civic assistance exercise deploying U.S. military engineers and medical professionals to Panama for training and to provide humanitarian services to local communities.