Throughout the week of April 16-20, approximately 40 staff members from Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) have departed to report for Pacific Partnership 2012.
Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12), the largest annual humanitarian and civic action (HCA) mission in the Asia-Pacific region, will begin May 1, and include engagements with the host nations of Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Priscilla Sanchez of NHB’s Emergency Room is one of NHB’s doctors, nurses, hospital corpsmen and support staff augmenting the multi-specialized team of preventive medicine, veterinarians and medical, dental and engineering personnel embarking on board hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) for the mission that is expected to last approximately four and a half months.
“I’m excited and ready for my first deployment. I volunteered for this mission and am happy to help and give back to others,” said Sanchez. “We will see, meet and work with different cultures and different countries. Just being able to share in the diversity will be a great opportunity all its own,” Sanchez said, a San Antonio, Texas native, who besides providing her ER technician skill when needed also plans on getting as many at-sea qualifications as she can during the anticipated four-month journey.
As has been the case in the past, medical and dental projects in each country are tailored to the requests of the host nation based on needs in the areas of public health and preventive medicine, veterinary care, optometry and ophthalmology, dental, adult and pediatric medicine, immunizations, nutritional counseling, biomedical repair and medical environmental assessments. Medical subject matter expert exchanges are designed to build capacity for host and partner nation providers to better understand respective cultural and provider practices. In addition, Pacific Partnership deploys with an engineering team made up of members of the Naval Construction Force (Seabees) to construct and repair projects requested by the host nations.
“You will travel to countries you’ve never been, meet people you will never forget, and for years afterwards, you will have that feeling of satisfaction of doing why you chose to be part of Navy Medicine in the first place,” said Capt. Christopher Culp, NHB commanding officer, leading the command to bid farewell to the departing staff members.
Mercy is slated to set sail in early May from San Diego for the annual HCA mission, which is sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet and began in 2006 as a result of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami that ravaged the Banda Aceh area of Sumatra.
PP 2012 will also be the first deployment for Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Ney.
“Everyone departing from here seems to be looking forward to it. Every single person I’ve talked to who has been on the deployment says it’s a great opportunity to visit places that most of us would never deploy to, let alone have a chance to go on any other kind of trip. I’ve got my camera packed, per family request. I’m ready to make the most of this, see as much as I can and lend a hand when needed,” said Ney.
At the invitation of the host nations, military and civilian professionals from Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Republic of Korea, Thailand and the United States, along with non-government organizations (NGO) and international agencies, will partner to execute tailored HCA projects and subject matter expert exchanges. These HCA projects and events, coordinated at the request of each host nation, will employ the collaborative capabilities of all participants in medical, dental, veterinary, public health services, engineering and disaster response activities that will help to increase confidence, capability and preparedness of host and partner nations to respond to natural disasters and crisis.
Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership 2012 has collaborated with partner nations, NGOs and host nation counterparts to focus on sustainability projects on a range of topics from basic first aid, preventative health and hygiene, and women’s health; beach and seawall corrosion, and maintenance of fisheries; and combined animal and public health campaigns. Host nations that ensure they are equipped with sustainable programs that prepare for and support emergency relief efforts align with a broader goal for maintaining a stable and secure Pacific region.
For the children of Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Guyland Charles, preparing his seabag along with others, it became a lot clearer that their father was leaving on an extended business trip.
“I think my son is having a harder time in dealing with this than anyone else,” said Charles.
“We’ll miss him, but I like the fact that if I got to share him with others, he’s going on a humanitarian mission to help others,” said his spouse Alicia Charles.
In addition to aiding the health, security, and improvement of disaster response capabilities of the host nations, the partnerships forged through Pacific Partnership missions help to ensure that the international community is better prepared to synchronize and function together as a coordinated force when disaster strikes.
Navaltoday Staff, April 23, 2012; Image: navy