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News | July 22, 2019

U.S. Navy Supports Medical Readiness in Colombia

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/EXW) Peter Lewis

RIOHACHA, Colombia (July 16, 2019) – The Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2019 Medical Engagement Team (MET) conducted subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with Colombian partners, June 17-July 19.

Topics covered included tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) for medical personnel and all combatants, the FEMA disaster course, massive hemorrhage control, patient movement, and waterborne illness treatment.

“We’re training with local Colombian military, civil defense, police, and hospital personnel to improve our skills with TCCC and learn how to better respond to patient needs,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chad Skottke, from Naval Hospital Jacksonville. “Effective TCCC, CPR and other life-saving skills are critical during military operations, natural disasters, and medical relief efforts.” 

“This course is broadening horizons on both ends,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Dennis Hueston, from Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune. “It’s cool to see the differences in how we perform similar treatments. We are picking up different ideas from each other, which will improve our abilities, and this training will allow us to integrate easily when we operate jointly.”

During the SMEEs, the SPS MET conducted a mass casualty drill to allow the Colombian participants to utilize their newly-acquired skills in a simulated disaster environment. Participants were required to rapidly treat simulated injuries such as compound fractures, lacerations, severe burns, and eviscerations.

“What we are learning will serve us well for the rest of our lives,” said Colombian Patrullero de Policia Nacional Juan Carlos Jimenez. “TCCC is something that we should not just teach in our military and police forces, but it should be taught worldwide because it’s about saving lives. The instruction has shown that this methodology has been revolutionary and the techniques that are employed are very good.”

“[This training] will benefit us very much because this is something new for our country,” added Colombian army Soldado Professional Luis Eduardo Perez Sanchez. “It’s also been very beneficial for me because previously I had only received tactical combat training and had no knowledge of your combat medical treatment methods. I have really liked this course and I want to continue studying it more.”

SPS is an annual series of U.S. Navy deployments focused on exchanges with regional partner nation militaries and security forces. SPS 19 consists of fly-away deployments of adaptive force packages to Barbados, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru to conduct training and subject matter expert exchanges to improve capacity in medical, dive operations, and engineering. 

SPS is part of U.S. Southern Command’s Enduring Promise initiative and reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Caribbean, Central and South America. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet is committed to supporting the efforts of partner nations to increase institutional capacity and regional collaboration for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief – one of the greatest challenges facing the region.

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