Joint Task Force-505, Nepalese army treat earthquake victims

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melissa White
  • Joint Task Force-505 Public Affairs
U.S. service members assisted officials, from the Government of Nepal and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), with providing medical care for earthquake victims at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 12.

Airmen, Marines and Sailors transported, triaged and provided minor medical care to approximately 44 patients who were evacuated to the airfield from remote, outlying villages after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake rattled the region just more than two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the nation.

The joint-service team worked together to transport the patients arriving on Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys and UH-1Y Huey helicopters. Patients were transferred on litters to a flightline aid station where they were triaged and given minor medical care. After they were stabilized, the teams loaded the patients onto ambulances for further transport to a local Nepalese army hospital.

"It's amazing how we can all work together when it comes down to it," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Gomez-Hickman, a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 corpsman. "Whatever uniform we wear doesn't matter right now, and the Nepalese army soldiers really helped out with translating to expedite the process."

The teams at the aid station received the first patients approximately 30 minutes after the earthquake hit. The station was originally capable of hosting four patients in a tent with additional cots set up in direct sunlight for overflow. Airmen from the U.S. Air Force’s 36th Contingency Response Group, assigned to Joint Task Force-505, came to the site shortly thereafter and increased the aid station capability to approximately 15 protected patient treatment areas by providing and setting up tents and cots.

Gomez-Hickman said she was thankful for the improved facility which helped expedite the processing of patient care while, also providing, a safer environment and protection from the sun and weather for those affected by the earthquake.

The 36th CRG Airmen originally deployed to Nepal on May 5 from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to help the Government of Nepal and USAID with airfield operations, but the second earthquake changed their primary mission.

"This was not what we originally came here to do," said Tech. Sgt. Honorata Fernandez, a 36th CRG independent duty medical technician. "I wasn't expecting another earthquake to hit after we got here, but I'm glad my skills can be used to help people during this difficult time."