July 17, 2019 —
The Medical Readiness Training Exercise team for New Horizons exercise 2019 saw their final patient July 12, 2019 in Linden, Guyana at the Egbert Benjamin Expedition and Conference Centre.
The MEDRETE provided services in family health, women’s health, dental, veterinary, dermatology, optometry, physical therapy, dietician and pediatrics to the local Guyanese over the two week training exercise.
“A Medical Readiness Training Exercise is where a predetermined group of doctors, nurses, technicians and pharmacy get together to train on deploying in a contingency type moment,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Meredith Sarda, medical training exercise officer in charge deployed from Vandenberg Air Force Base. “We are here to learn how to put up a hospital and take care of patients in a worldwide contingency such as a hurricane or tsunami.”
During the two week training exercise, New Horizons medical providers working alongside host nation medics and non-governmental organizations saw and treated a total of 9,575 patients.
Below is the total number of patients each medical service treated:
- General Medicine: 1211
- Dental: 666
- Pediatrics: 375
- Optometry: 1430
- Physical Therapy: 158
- Dietician: 391
- Women’s Health: 326
- Dermatology: 467
- Veterinary: 725
- Pharmacy: 3826
According to Sarda, MEDRETEs give U.S. military medical providers the opportunity to evaluate and treat uncommon diseases and illnesses they would not normally see in the United States.
“We get to see things that we don’t get to see in the United States,” said Sarda. “Conditions that have not been treated at all in Guyana, but in the states we would have seen them in the early stages and referred them to a specialist that would have prevented the manifestations of diseases.”
The impact of New Horizons was also acknowledged by the President of Guyana, David A. Granger. During the U.S. Embassy’s 4th of July party (243rd anniversary of the USA's independence), President Granger addressed the importance previous New Horizons exercise iterations and the current one have for the Guyanese people.
“Guyana continues to benefit from the United States Southern Command New Horizons series of projects. Which began 15 years ago,” said Granger. “The current project has contributed to Guyana’s public health and public education systems. To the building of clinics, community centers, schools and the hosting of medical outreaches. All of these promote peace and stability and augment the development of the social infrastructure, so necessary to improving citizen’s quality of life”.
This MEDRETE tasked Air Force and Army medics to deploy to a unique and challenging environment, where the exceeded expeditionary medical training objectives and demonstrated their ability to provide humanitarian assistance in coalition with host nation partners and non-governmental organizations.
New Horizons is an annual U.S. Southern Command training and humanitarian exercise that is led by Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) in various countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. This will be the third time that the New Horizons exercise has taken place in Guyana, having previously occurred there in 2004 and 2009. During this iteration in Guyana, U.S. service members have also been working side-by-side with the Guyanese people to construct three community centers and a women’s shelter.