US, Philippine servicemembers conduct medical exchange during Balikatan 2011|
By Maj. Shea A. Asis
The focus of the symposium, held April 5-9 at the V Luna Medical Center in Quezon City, Philippines, was to further the relationship between AFP and U.S. medical professionals participating in Balikatan 2011 through joint training on various healthcare subjects. Topics included advanced cardiac life support, tactical nurse combat care and treatment of blast trauma.
For Col. Phil Hockings, USARPAC chief of medical plans and operations, this was his second trip to Balikatan, and he jumped at the opportunity to do the exchange again.
"With 33 members of the AFP nurse corps coming from all parts of the country to be here, it was a great success," said Hockings.
The AFP particularly wanted training with the automated external defibrillator, used to revive a patient's pulse by providing a shock to the heart. It also proved to be riveting for the U.S. experts who led the training.
"It was great to take the nurses out of their comfort zone and discuss health support service planning," Lt. Col. Mark Stevens, USARPAC medical planner.
The subject of evacuation procedures proved to be another one of great interest to the AFP nurses. It's a mission that has become the norm for U.S. medical teams because of the ability of U.S. military's to plan medical evacuations from remote locations.
"The AFP does not always have that capability to do evacuations like that, so getting the nurses to think at the higher level is what I wanted to teach to them," said Stevens. "They really got the message."
Even with recognized differences in procedures, the group shared an understanding of the medical basics, which facilitated learning from each other.
"Most of the nurses had combat experience, so exchanging techniques and procedures on combat care was amazing," said Hocking.
For the USARPAC contingent, it was a great way to collaborate with colleagues on the commonality for caring for the sick and wounded. Planners are already looking at new subjects to cover during the next Balikatan exercise.
"As we build upon this, next year's event will be even better," said Hockings. "We hope, as each year progress within Balikatan, this tradition will continue and become a lasting bond between both armies."