News: Utah State Medical Command provides humanitarian civil assistance to Moroccan villages during African Lion 2012
Story by Sgt. Nicolas A. Cloward
AGADIR, Morocco – Soldiers from the Utah State Medical Command, Utah Army National Guard, worked spiritedly along side Moroccan military medical personnel providing medical aid for as many people as they could. Throngs of Moroccan villagers gathered around the humanitarian civil assistance site in Sidi Moussa, Morocco, April 13.
Pathways to the examination rooms were crowded with parents eagerly trying to receive medical aid for their children and themselves.
The humanitarian aid came as part of African Lion 2012, which is an annual partnership training exercise between U.S. Forces and the Royal Moroccan Military. During African Lion, U.S. and Moroccan forces work along side one another to build national relations and understanding of each other’s tactics and operation procedures.
Sgt. Robert W. Carpenter, a combat medic for Medcom and native of Herriman, Utah, explained that Medcom arrived on site early in the morning and began by setting up each individual clinic. The HCA site provided several clinics such as general medicine, dermatology, respiratory, pediatric, gynecology, ear, nose and throat, Ophthalmology and dental.
Because of the large number of Moroccans seeking medical aid, the HCA crew was only able to provide care for one department per person – medical, dental or ophthalmology. Once the villagers got into the clinic the crew was faced with another problem.
According to Carpenter, a major obstacle was the language barrier. In Morocco, the three main languages are French, Arabic and Berber. Berber is a common language spoken among the small villages of Morocco and has three dialects. Each one is so unique that people that speak one dialect may have a difficult time understanding one of the other dialects.
Luckily, interpreters from the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, Royal Moroccan Military and Peace Corps were available to help bridge the language gap between the villagers and physicians. Many times, information about a patient’s condition would have to be translated through several people before getting back to the care provider, added Carpenter.
First Lt. Emily S. Smith, a physician assistant for Medcom worked in the pediatric clinic. She understood first-hand the value of overcoming the language barriers. “If it weren’t for the interpreters, we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did,” said the Herriman, Utah native
Despite the overwhelming demand of health care needs and the labyrinth of linguistic daisy chains, the service members and volunteers of the HCA were able to provide medical care for more than 1,000 in a single days work. “There’s still just so much work to be done,” said Carpenter.
This work, Utah State Medical Command provides humanitarian civil assistance to Moroccan villages during African Lion 2012, by SSG Nicolas A. Cloward, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.