USARAF, Ghana Armed Forces share medical expertise
April 3, 2014
In partnership with the Ghana Armed Forces, U.S. Army Africa and medical personnel from 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support conducted Medical Readiness Training Exercise 14-3, at the 37th Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana, March 24-April 4.
"The exercise was for us to improve standards of practice and for us to work together at various workstations to combine our experiences to see where we can do things better," said Col. Awuku, deputy commander for the 37th Military Hospital.
Third MDSC personnel worked side-by-side with their GAF counterparts in the emergency room, triage, operating room and intensive care unit. They also provided academics to Ghana health care providers in the areas of casualty triage, disaster care, and how to apply a tourniquet.
"Each morning the teams made rounds, examined patients, conducted surgeries and compared techniques and best practices -- all with their Ghanaian counterpart," said Col. Jim Czarnik, USARAF command surgeon. "Each afternoon they met in classrooms and shared their expertise. Each afternoon it was hard to tell who was the teacher, and who was the student. Each group learned from the other, for every member of the American team and every member of the Ghanaian team had individual experiences to share."
The exercise allowed U.S. forces to share medical procedures as well as learn how to operate in different environments other than what is considered normal by U.S. standards.
"There is no doubt in my mind that training is important for any institution. Training is more beneficial when it is mutually arranged," said Col. Ralph Ametepe, commander for the 37th Military Hospital. "We deem it very important to have our medical colleagues come here to share ideas."
The training also provided the GAF healthcare system the ability to deliver effective trauma surgery and promote its capacity to serve as a regional training center for damage control surgery and support to UN peacekeeping and humanitarian operations.
"Trauma is one of the leading causes of death in Ghana," Awuku said. "MEDRETE 14-3 allowed us to share knowledge and experiences to facilitate the improvement of care for patients."
MEDRETE 14-3 allowed medical professionals from both militaries to build and strengthen medical capacity.
We were able to receive a lot good hands-on experience in how to provide care," said Lt. Col. Vincent Moss, 3rd MCDS trauma and thoracic surgeon. "We will take that back with us to adjust how we do things in an austere environment."
MEDRETE 14-3 is part of a broader series of military-to-military activities that demonstrate the strong partnership between the U.S. and our African partners.
"One of the reasons the U.S. Army sends its military teams to Africa is because Africans have so much to teach us," Czarnik said. "Although we share a common theme of placing the patient at the center of our decisions in order to provide the best care we can, we often have differing obstacles to overcome as we go about our day-to-day work."
Czarnik added, "The GAF's willingness to allow us to work side-by-side and share in some of their obstacles, provides us with a unique perspective that forces us to question if our way is the best way or just the best way we know."
Ametepe noted that he wanted to commend the U.S. Army team for what they did and appreciates their enthusiasm, zeal and readiness to share everything with his staff.
MEDRETE 14-3 was a mutually beneficial exercise that brought together Ghana and U.S. Army medical professionals to foster cooperation while conducting medical specific tasks.
"The United States Army is proud to have partnered with the people of Ghana for this exercise," Czarnik said. "We look forward to our continuing relationship with all of our African partners and what we will accomplish together in the future. We seek to promote partnership to address challenges, such as those we trained on during this exercise."