CUMUTO BARRACKS, Trinidad and Tobago – With hospital operations well under way, the U.S. Air Force medical personnel that form the Expeditionary Medical Support Health Response Team, started seeing patients at 8:00 a.m. at Cumuto Barracks here in support of the Fuerzas Alidas Humanitarias (FA HUM 2011) or Allied Forces Humanitarian Exercise.
Medical personnel from the 60th Medical Group at Travis Air Force Base treated more than 250 patients, mostly coming for dental work. Because there were so many patients, the dental team continued to see patients’ even hours after their duty day was over.
“It would be great if we had more dentists and dental technicians because the patient flow is so high,” said Staff Sgt. Jamie Dillon, 60th Medical Group dental technician. “We are in high demand, and we wish we could do it all but we can’t. We are only taking emergency patients—getting rid of infections, getting rid of pain and then referring them to a dentist down town. I’m working hard and loving it.”
The medical team was hand-selected for this tasking to test the new EMEDS HRT and was well prepared to test the new capability while providing care to hundreds of citizens.
“Our focus is to stop the pain and get to the root of the problem, said Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Medical Group medical technician. I wasn’t expecting the large number of patients. Some of the patients were telling us that they have to sit on waiting lists that last for months or even years for simple procedures that we take for granted such as a cyst removal. We were able to do those for them today, so to improve their quality life for something that seems so simple to us makes a world of difference—I thought that was awesome.”
This exercise demonstrates the use of the HRT for the very first time. Not only did personnel test the new facility, they tested their cultural understanding.
“We learned to interact with local nationals and that allowed me to see a new perspective, especially on what we take for granted,” said Tech Sgt. Nestor Ebuen, 60th MDG medical technician. “The people here are amazing and I’m glad they invited us here.”
The U.S. Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago Beatrice Welters also visited the EMEDS HRT facility.
“This is a great humanitarian effort and I hope that all the people in Trinidad including the government know what is going on here right now,” said Welters. “I’m proud to be the Ambassador during this time you are here and I’m glad that you are helping the Trinidad military to prepare themselves should a disaster occur.”