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US, German forces work together in medical exercise

By Sgt. Bradly Shaver | | July 22, 2003

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Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa personnel and German medical teams aboard Camp Lemonier participated in a mass casualty drill here, July 17.

Three mock victims were treated at Camp Lemonier's medical tent and then airlifted by helicopter to the German ship FGS Frankfurt Am Main, afloat in the Gulf of Aden.

"The idea was to plan for three patients with major injuries, resulting from an auto accident near Camp Lemonier, and have them airlifted to the ship for medical treatment," said Navy Capt. John D. DeWalt, flight surgeon.

The exercise started when the victims first arrived at the medical tent in Camp Lemonier. From there, the center contacted the German hospital ship to dispatch a helicopter for an emergency medical evacuation.

Within minutes, a German Sea King helicopter launched from the ship and notified the medical tent 15 minutes prior to their arrival at Djibouti airport.

The casualty victims being treated at the troop medical center, were loaded onto the helicopter, along with the American medical team. In flight, the staff continued to treat the victims until their arrival on the hospital ship.

Upon touchdown, a German medical team brought the victims to the surgical rooms where the American staff briefed the Germans on the victims' conditions giving the Germans team control of the exercise.

After completion of the mass casualty drill, the hospital staff was debriefed in medical and logistical matters. This was to improve both medical teams' actions for the next exercise, and more importantly, for real life situations.

"I've been training with German medical (staffs) for more than 20-years, and doing this type of exercise is always good for us," said German Senior Petty Officer Karl Adler, chief medical corpsman. "For us, we do these medical exercises every week, and we try to train with another American service every year.

"We are the only German (medical team) in Djibouti, so training at Camp Lemonier with the Americans is very good for us. I know our boys are enjoying it here - it's a very nice camp," Adler said, who is stationed aboard the German supply ship Tender Donau.

DeWalt said their experience with the Germans aboard the hospital ship and helicopter flight was an amazing success.

"The German's and Camp Lemonier's surgical teams were able to layout a stable format, which resulted in excellent training," he said. "They discussed communication issues as well as transport and responsibility issues, regarding medical care.

"The leadership responsibilities between the American and German surgical teams resulted in a great sense of camaraderie and professionalism between the two services," he added. "There's no doubt in my mind that our abilities to work together is at an extremely high level. We are confident in their capabilities and I believe they feel the same way about us."

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