Back to Top Skip to main content

Air Force medical team supports exercise in Panama

Air Force Master Sgt. Emeriles Curry, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, provides dental care to a local man in the Coclé Province of Panama. To date, in 2-weeks’ worth of Medical Readiness Training Exercises, the teams working in conjunction with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, have seen nearly 4,700 patients. The medical team is participating in Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise focused on medical, civil engineer and support service personnel’s ability to prepare, deploy, operate, and redeploy outside the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen) Air Force Master Sgt. Emeriles Curry, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, provides dental care to a local man in the Coclé Province of Panama. To date, in 2-weeks’ worth of Medical Readiness Training Exercises, the teams working in conjunction with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, have seen nearly 4,700 patients. The medical team is participating in Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise focused on medical, civil engineer and support service personnel’s ability to prepare, deploy, operate, and redeploy outside the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

COCLE, Panama — Five members of the 2nd Medical Group, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, joined other teams of Airmen, Marines and Soldiers in support of the New Horizons 2018 humanitarian exercise in Panama.

New Horizons 2018 is a joint training exercise which provides training to U.S. military members in engineering, medical, and support services, as well as providing support to the Panamanian people.

Barksdale’s team of four dental personnel and one logistics technician joined 10 Panamanian dentists and five U.S. Army dental personnel to deliver much needed services to communities in Panama.

The dental team lead is Air Force Lt. Col Joanna McPherson, 2nd Dental Squadron clinical flight commander, who is excited to participate in New Horizons 2018 and happy for the training it provides.

“We have been able to train on equipment usage and utilization of our deployment dental units,” McPherson said. “We don’t get a lot of hands-on time with those units, but here we are able to learn about trouble shooting and maintenance for them.

“We also get to train on mission planning, logistics and preparations for operations of a large magnitude,” she continued.

During the exercise, the medical team has participated in three separate Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETEs), each one in a different location. Despite location changes, the dental team’s goal is to provide care to as many people as they can.

“We are working hard to treat as many patients as possible because we know that they are coming from such a long distance,” McPherson said. “This is such a valuable service to them because they don’t typically have the capability of getting a teeth cleaning, without having to travel a long distance. Some here would go their entire lives without a cleaning.”

McPherson has participated in civilian humanitarian missions through dental groups, non-profit organizations and church groups, in locations such as Africa, Mexico, and Jamaica. She has never participated in a military-led humanitarian exercise and is impressed with the number of patients the team has been able to see.

“Overall we will see around 1,500 dental patients,” McPherson said. “Other missions I have been on, we saw quite a few patients but still a much smaller population.”

Due to the dental equipment the team was able to bring, the level of care they are able to provide will go a long way in reducing oral diseases and conditions, she said.

The dentists were able to provide teeth cleanings that only credentialed providers are able to, cleaning far below the gum line. Cleanings that deep are able to relive pain and prevent periodontal disease, which causes pain, abscesses and bone loss, McPherson added.

For the medical logistics technician, the exercise has provided a unique experience.

“This has been my first deployment and it was definitely a training opportunity,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Heard, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron medical logistics technician who is deployed from Barksdale. “It has been an opportunity to see how we can set up a bare bone clinic, run efficiently and provide supplies for all the clinics. We are learning how to work with a plan and adapt on the fly, and this has been very helpful to being able to work around problems.

“New Horizons has also helped me understand the supplies acquisition process and how to provide input in order to try to prevent future loss by sending too much or too little,” Heard added.

The New Horizons team brought enough supplies to care for more than 5,000 patients during the MEDRETE. With a high volume of patients McPherson is joyful for the team she is working with during the exercise, and the Barksdale team particularly.

“Anytime you are working in close quarters in a stressful environment where you really rely on each other, you build a bond that is really unique,” she said. “I knew they were great before so I was really excited to get assigned to this team with them. They are very capable, smart and hardworking people. I am excited we are experiencing this together.”

During the Medical Readiness Exercises, the Barksdale team has also been working closely with Panamanian dentists.

“Working with them and seeing how quick they are taking care of patients is kind of eye opening for us,” McPherson said. “In the United States, we have different standards and expectations. To see a patient and get a tooth pulled in about 6 minutes is unheard of, but they are used to that here.”

McPherson has also enjoyed her interactions with the local dentists and the experience it provides.

“It has been nice to work with them and they are interested in what we are doing and happy that we can expand their services,” she said. “Some of them have been able to use our equipment and have really appreciated it. It expands our horizons to work with other cultures and learn their practices and share knowledge back and forth.”

An experience like New Horizons is a memorable one for all involved. McPherson said her best experience is being able to help those in need.

“When you are away from your family, no matter how long, it’s always difficult,” she said. “But when you have made an impact on people in an underserved population, it really makes that time apart worth it. A lot of us in the health career field have typically chosen it to help those in need. That’s how our team has approached this – if we have to be away from our families and our unit, then we are going to work our hardest to help as many people as possible.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.


You also may be interested in...

Network of researchers advancing warfighter readiness

Article
12/4/2019
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee Payne, the assistant director for Combat Support at DHA, delivered the keynote address at the Global Emerging Infections Surveillance Scientific and Programmatic Advancement Meeting, GSPAM. He emphasized the importance of Force Health Protection measures and linked the GEIS mission to DHA’s combat support mission. (DoD photo)

In fiscal year 2020, GEIS awarded approximately $60 million to more than 20 DoD laboratories and U.S. government partners

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Global Health Engagement | Global Emerging Infections Surveillance

Ship-based Global Health Engagement

Article
12/4/2019
Navy Capt. Heather King, executive director of the TriService Nursing Research Program at the Uniformed Services University, details the process of ship-based global health engagement missions during the October 22, 2019, Medical Museum Science Café titled "Ship-Based Global Health Engagement Missions: Expanding Global Partnerships" at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland. (NMHM photo)

Global health engagement is an important priority for military medicine

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | National Museum of Health and Medicine

World AIDS Day puts spotlight on landmark DoD study

Article
12/2/2019
Dr. John Mascola, director of the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center, discusses HIV vaccine progress at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Nov. 26, during a World AIDS Day commemoration.  (U.S. Army photo)

Vaccine study shows infection risk lowered by 31 percent, offering hope for future

Recommended Content:

Immunization Healthcare | Research and Innovation | Global Health Engagement

USNS Comfort strengthens partnership with Jamaica

Article
11/7/2019
Navy Cmdr. Sara Naczas, a nurse assigned to the hospital ship USNS Comfort, helps a boy roll his yo-yo at a temporary medical treatment site in Kingston, Jamaica. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at a temporary medical treatment site, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maria G. Llanos)

This marks the Comfort’s third visit to Jamaica

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

Honduran MEDRETEs provide invaluable surgical, training opportunities

Article
10/30/2019
Air Force Maj. Julia Nuelle, chief of Orthopaedic Hand and Microvascular Surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center, poses for a photo with a pediatric patient and her mother during a Medical Readiness Exercise in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The team finished their mission by visiting their patients and delivering toys and coloring books to the hospital's pediatric ward. (Courtesy photo by Army Lt. Col. Lori Tapley)

MEDRETEs play a critical role in the training and readiness of military medical personnel

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

Comfort strengthens partnership following successful medical mission

Article
10/21/2019
Navy Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Benjamin Lazarus flies in an MH-60S Seahawk assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, as it transports supplies from the hospital ship USNS Comfort for a temporary medical treatment site in Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall)

More than 800 medical professionals provided care for 3,677 patients

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

Comfort strengthens partnership with Grenada

Article
9/27/2019
Surgical staff transports a woman into the post-anesthesia care unit following her surgery aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort as the ship is anchored off the coast of St. George's, Grenada. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national healthcare systems, including those strained by an increase in cross-border migrants. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall)

This marks the first visit to Grenada and the seventh to the region since 2007

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement

U.S. builds bonds in Papua New Guinea

Article
9/17/2019
Navy Lt. Austin Stokes, (right), and Air Force Maj. Nicole Smith (center), both dentists, talk to a patient at the Pacific Angel 19-4 health outreach site in Lae, Papua New Guinea. The health outreach site is comprised of five clinics including primary care, optometry, dental, physical therapy and pharmacy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla)

This is the second Pacific Angel exercise conducted in Papua New Guinea

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

U.S., Royal Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation Squadrons train together

Article
7/26/2019
Reserve Citizen Airmen from Joint Base Charleston's 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron prepare a mock patient during a drill inside a C-17 Globemaster III, July 10, 2019. Drills performed while in-flight are to mimic real-life scenarios that the 315 AES may encounter. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman William Brugge)

The C-17 Globemaster III serves as a common platform for medevacs in both squadrons

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Building Partner Capacity and Interoperability

USNS Comfort completes medical mission in Peru

Article
7/22/2019
The hospital ship USNS Comfort (left) receives a fuel probe from the Peruvian ship B.A.P. Tacna during replenishment-at-sea practice. Comfort is working with health and government partners in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean to provide care on the ship and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained by an increase in Venezuelan migrants. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall)

This marks USNS Comforts’ seventh deployment to the region since 2007

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Vice President Pence tours USNS Comfort before its Latin America deployment

Article
6/20/2019
Vice President Mike Pence (right) greets Navy Lt. Gwendolyn Mann, and his wife, Karen Pence (center right), greets Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Edna Wallace during a tour of the USNS Comfort in Miami, June 18, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Jordan R. Bair)

The vice president called the deployment a lifesaving mission

Recommended Content:

Civil Military Medicine | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief | Global Health Engagement | Military Hospitals and Clinics

German allies visit JBSA-Fort Sam Houston on 75th anniversary of D-Day

Article
6/14/2019
Maj. Gen. Gesine Kruger, Commander for the German Bundeswehr Medical Academy (pictured center in the Flight Paramedic Training Simulator) and her delegation observed training and toured the Critical Care Flight Paramedic Course at the Health Readiness Center of Excellence. (U.S. Army photo)

The purpose of this visit was to further strengthen the bonds and interoperability programs between our allied countries or partner nations

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Health Readiness

AFRICOM holds annual Command Surgeon Conference

Article
6/3/2019
Air Force Maj. Gen. Lee E. Payne. DHA assistant director for combat support, talks to attendees of the 2019 U.S. Africa Command Command Surgeon Synchronization Conference May 28, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany. Payne discussed upcoming changes to the military health system and what that means for patients and providers. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Hurd/Released)

The conference brought together medical professionals from across the command, and interagency and foreign partners, to enable collaboration and discuss areas of concern

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Combat Support

DoD joins national global health security effort

Article
5/13/2019
Image of the DoD Seal

The Global Health Security Strategy outlines the U.S. approach to strengthen Global Health Security

Recommended Content:

Global Health Engagement | Global Health Security Agenda

Navy hospital ship to deploy in response to humanitarian crisis in Latin America

Article
5/10/2019
The U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort is scheduled to deploy in to the Caribbean, Central America and South America to conduct humanitarian medical assistance missions in support of regional partners and in response to the regional impacts of political and economic crises in Venezuela. (U.S. Navy photo)

USNS Comfort represents our enduring promise to our partners in the Western Hemisphere

Recommended Content:

Military Hospitals and Clinics | Global Health Engagement | Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.