News | Oct. 24, 2019

U.S. Navy Completes Medical SMEEs, Training in Peru

By Petty Officer 1st Class Peter Lewis

LIMA, Peru (October 21, 2019) – The Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2019 Medical Engagement Team (MET) conducted their final mass casualty drill with Peruvian military medical personnel, October 21, culminating a month-long series of subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) and field exercises.

The U.S. and Peruvian medics conducted training on a variety of life-saving skills, including tactical combat casualty care (TCCC), massive hemorrhage control, patient movement, and water and waste treatment. The MET also utilized the “train the trainer” concept, teaching several Peruvian medics to act as instructors.

“The ‘train the trainer’ concept we utilized will allow the Peruvian military to continue with training their service members in these tactical trauma care concepts, creating a medical force multiplier,” said Lt. Cmdr. Loren Nedelman, from Naval Branch Health Clinic Annapolis, the MET officer in charge.

“This was a great experience for me, my fellow service members, and my country,” said Peruvian Tecnico Primero Cilvio Moran Andrade. “As trained instructors, we can now provide our personnel with better knowledge to save their own lives and the lives of others, if necessary. We can now socialize these skills with all of our other units, even after our American allies return home. This interaction between our countries is a great benefit to our military.”

The Peruvian military was not the only one to gain from the interactions. The MET agreed that they learned much from their Latin American counterparts, and that training with foreign allies is key when operating together during real-world missions.

“Bringing their medical capabilities in line with our own will ensure that when we operate jointly, whether during exercises or humanitarian and disaster relief response, a common medical language will be spoken,” Nedelman added. “Utilizing the knowledge gained and shared during our mission ensures our ability to enhance cooperation and allows for us to build one team for one fight.”

“The Peruvian medics were very enthusiastic and hungrily devoured all the information we gave them,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Tavonda McGhee, from Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit TWO, a MET member. “It’s amazing knowing that there are service members in another part of the world that I would be able to operate with seamlessly during a medical emergency, if necessary.”

Several commandos from the Peruvian Pelotones de Accion Directa participated in the training and mass casualty drill. They said that the training was “very beneficial and helpful in refreshing skills that we routinely use when on mission.”

“This training was very important because the Americans brought us new techniques and helped us update our skills,” said Peruvian Infanteria de Marina Tecnico Primero Abelino Benites Illescas. “We are pretty good at first aid, but this training will make us even better at tactical field care.”

The Peruvian participants put the skills they learned into practice during the exercise. The mass casualty drill involved treatment of a large group of service members with simulated injuries such as lacerations, fractures, penetrating injuries, burns and shock. The Medical Engagement Team agreed that the Peruvian medics performed exceptionally, and are ready, willing and able to put the skills they learned into action.

“During the mass casualty drill, the students displayed a profound understanding of the medicine and tactics they were introduced to in the course,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chad Skottke, from Naval Hospital Jacksonville, the MET leading petty officer. “This experience will serve them well if they are ever in a military, humanitarian or natural disaster situation where they have to manage many casualties at the same time.”

“The subject matter expert exchanges we’ve conducted with the Peruvians helped to increase their understanding of basic and advanced trauma and disaster care,” added Nedelman. “This was apparent in their outstanding performance during the mass casualty drill.”

“Their performance in the class and during the mass casualty drill really demonstrated that they absorbed the information and are ready to use it if the need arises,” said McGhee.

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.