A U.S. military medical mission to Cambodia arrived in a former Khmer Rouge stronghold Monday and quickly was overwhelmed with victims of decades of land mine warfare.
According to a Pacific Command news release, the special blast resuscitation and victim assistance mission, known as BRAVA 2004, was sent to care for people with land mine and other war-related traumas and will be in the village of Kep until the end of the month.
“The BRAVA team was welcomed by a mixed crowd of Khmer and Cham-Muslims and greeted with a ceremony hosted by officials from the U.S. Embassy and Cambodian government,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Adam Johnston, a public affairs official assigned to the mission from the 18th Wing on Kadena Air Base.
“After the ceremony, medics began screening patients to assess what type of help they could provide the local population,” he said. Some 500 people attended the ceremony.
“We’ve already seen patients with some old land mine injuries,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Sid Brevard, medical director for BRAVA 2004. He said the Cambodians were glad to see the U.S. surgeons and were “very patient” as the medics went through preliminary examinations and screened them for treatment.
About 150 people were screened in the first four hours and 22 cases were scheduled for surgery, said Air Force Lt. Col. Diep Duopng, the BRAVA 2004 team leader.
“While in Cambodia, military medics will hone skills in austere environments that will help them practice their field medicine skills,” Johnston said. “Officials have said that such work is important because it will give medics first-hand experience in how to work in environments with limited electricity and water, high heat and humidity and mosquitoes.”
While performing the medical mission, members of the BRAVA 2004 team also will host a community relations event with games for local children and a cookout for local leaders and officials, he said.Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
U.S. Army Capt. Erick Martell and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Gerald E. Tanner assess possible patients in a hospital compound in Kep, Cambodia. Martell and Tanner are part of a 20-member victim assistance team that arrived for a two-week humanitarian mission to aid victims of land mines in the war-torn nation.