Multilateral medical effort eases pain of locals during Cobra Gold
By Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks
| | May 11, 2007
PRACHUAP PROVINCE, Thailand --
Thai, U.S., Japanese and Singaporean doctors shared resources to provide medical assistance to the residents of Prahuap at the Udomraj Pakdee School May 11, as part of exercise Cobra Gold 2007, a joint multilateral exercise focusing on enhancing security in the Southeast Region as well as providing humanitarian/civic assistance projects.
This humanitarian assistance project is one of 11 being conducted during the exercise.
With medical check sheets in hand, each patient visited different stations for a full medical exam, including optometry, orthopedics, dental, physical therapy and a basic health care assessment.
Every ailment was treated, down to the smallest of aches and pains.
“It’s amazing what some of these people endure,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin Ashcraft, hospital corpsman, Operation Hospital Support Unit, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif. “One man had a 10-year fracture that never properly healed and all he complained about was a little back pain caused by farm work. It really puts things in perspective.”
The project involved a large number of military doctors and nurses from the Pacific partner nations who treated more than 400 patients in just a few hours.
“There is no doubt these people are doing great things here today,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Stephen Maloney, deputy director, humanitarian/civic assistance projects. “We are absolutely out here to help the local community.”
Maloney said this project, along with others conducted in the past weeks, is part of an overall theater security cooperation initiative. These projects are designed to foster ties between the Southeast Asian nations and prepare them for real-world contingencies such as the December 2004 tsunami relief effort.
“We are helping to provide the essential (military to military) relationship development that we need in the region,” he added.
The medical assistance here provided Pacific partner nations a chance to work together in an operational environment and help people in need.
“(It) feels great to help and learn from our partners and learn more about their cultures,” said Singapore Army Master Sgt. Tan Shaotheng. “This operation has been well organized and the flow has been smooth. It is very well done.”
The medical professionals did not just treat the patients’ injuries, they also collected valuable data that was sent to local health care facilities and referred the patients for follow-on health care.
“Sure, we can help them here and now. But, we also need to be concerned about the follow-on care,” Maloney said. “The data collection is just as important as the medical care.”
Those involved in the project continued working long into the hot and humid day, handing out eyeglasses to those who have never seen clearly, fitting the old with canes and checking the health and comfort of the young. Working with translators, the staff did not quit until the last person’s sheet had been filled out completely.
The sentiment among the medical professionals was of not doing enough. Despite the language barrier, those receiving treatment smiled and laughed alongside their caregivers who came from all corners of the Pacific. Even those who were weakened from pain expressed their gratitude.
“I think they appreciate our help,” Shaotheng said. “They need medical attention and we are happy to provide it for them.”
More stories, photos and videos are availible at www.apan-info.net/cobragold.