By SOF Editor on Thu, 02/18/2010 - 11:07am
LAOAG, Philippines (AFNS) -- Medical teams from the United States and the Philippines treated nearly 2,000 Philippine patients since Feb. 15 during Operation Pacific Angel, a humanitarian and civic assistance operation scheduled through Feb. 22 here.
More than 50 U.S. military personnel are participating in Operation Pacific Angel, aimed at improving military civic cooperation between the United States and countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Medical care is being conducted concurrently at the Santa Maria and San Mateo Elementary Schools in Ilocos Norte.
"We have actually exceeded our initial expectations for total number of patients for the first day," said Maj. Brad Cogswell, the 13th Air Force lead medical planner. "We originally anticipated about 1,000 patients today and were able to treat many more in only one day."
Both locations were packed with hundreds of people waiting for an appointment with either the general medical, dental or optometry clinics.
At the initial entry to the medical sites, people are required to register and get their vital signs from volunteer Philippine Red Cross employees or other Pacific Angel team members. Patients are then assigned a number and wait for their time slot in the clinic where they need to receive medical treatment.
To ensure effective two-way communication between the medical team and the Philippine patients, a team of translators were on hand to assist during medical evaluations.
"I'm excited to be here because I can speak Tagalog and the local dialect and I can help with translation on medical issues and education," said Maj. Marissa Marquez, a medic and translator from the 752nd Medical Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, Calif. "I easily translated hand washing techniques, information about Dengue fever and public health prevention tips to hundreds of people today."
The team was able to care for the number of patients they did because of the support they've received from host nation officials.
"We are hitting every angle to ensure we provide the best care possible for the Philippine people," Major Marquez said. "I think this has gone extremely well because of the number of volunteers and the host nation support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police."
United States officials are also conducting a seven-day engineering civic assistance program that will include plumbing, electrical and structural work at the Caaoacan Elementary School in Laoag City. Additionally, the U.S. and Filipino officials will conduct a medical subject matter expert exchange at the Laoag City General Hospital focusing on basic life support, infectious diseases, disaster readiness and public health.