Article submitted by Kevin
118th ASMB and MEDCAP
During Operation IRAQI Freedom II
Mon, 17 May 2004
positive things are happening throughout Iraq. One of these is called
MEDCAP’s, (Medical Civic Action Programs). Recently, the 118th
Medical Battalion (Area Support) from Newington, CT. in conjunction
with the Civil Affairs from the 13th COSCOM (Corps Support Command),
both headquartered at LSA Anaconda, Balad, IRAQ, sponsored a MEDCAP
at one of our local villages. On May 11, 2004, a convoy of 10 vehicles,
complete with security elements, Doctors, and Physician Assistants headed,
as we call it, "outside the wire".
To travel outside the wire, leaving the Base Camp, requires quite a
large amount of prior planning. This particular MEDCAP was two weeks
in the planning stages, with soldiers from six different units involved.
There must be a convoy commander, head of the security element, and
also the chief of medical services to be provided. This is truly a culmination
of the training we received at MOB Station, as well as at Udari R ange
in Kuwait prior to heading North into Iraq.
The major difference between a MEDCAP in a Theater of war, and ones
that we have participated with in the past is largely due to the level
of threat. When conducting a MEDCAP, or MEDRET, in South America, such
as Nicaragua, we can plan with the local village and have it extremely
organized prior to the event itself. When conducting a MEDCAP in IRAQ,
we do not have the luxury of letting the townspeople know that we are
coming, the Civil Affairs folks will coordinate with the local mayor
so that a place may be established that is suitable for the activity.
Then when the day arrives, our group arrives at the village, our perimeter
security is established immediately, and then we quickly set-up a clinic.
Not quite like the ones we have back home.
On this particular day we had our new dentist, COL (Dr) Mark Chun from
Hawaii, with us as well.
Left: Dr. Mark
Chun performing dental exam Right: Elizabeth Jarry, a dental hygienist
at Balad Air Base, Iraq, shows villagers of all ages how to brush their
teeth during a recent Medical Civic Action Project at a small village
His mission was more education and training and preventive dental care,
rather than trying to fix dental problems, we could only stay on the
ground three hours before we had to be prepared to leave.
In the clinical setting we were fortunate to have LTC (Dr) Rick Young,
Chief of pediatrics from St Raphael Hospital in New Haven,
Dr. Rick Young
with local child
and CPT Dave Lang, one of our Physicians Assistants.
Dave Lang performing
“The biggest problem we face in providing treatment is the language
barrier” said LTC Young. Although we were able to bring along two DOD
sponsored interpreters, we also used the skills of our own SGT Tanya
Williams, who speaks Arabic, she became very helpful in speaking with
the local women regarding health care issues.
John Cinco, 332nd Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility flight surgeon
at Balad Air Base, Iraq, checks an infant Iraqi girl's breathing during
a recent Medical Civic Action Project, or MEDCAP
During the three hours we actually had to provide care, our providers
managed to see approximately 100 patients. The actual numbers are very
difficult to acquire, due to the fact that when we try to treat one
patient, it seems the whole family has individual needs. Once the village
realized why we were there, the lines formed within twenty minutes,
which created one of our biggest duties, crowd control.
Although it will soon average 120 degrees, every soldier who was involved
in this mission said they hope to be involved in the next one. As we
(118 Med Bn) continue with our missions throughout this country, from
Turkey to Kuwait, just remember that there are large amounts of good
happening in this part of the world, and hopefully the television and
print media alike will begin to show it to the rest of the world. THANKS
Well Kevin, even if they don't,
we will! Thank YOU!