U.S. military personnel evacuate 2 women, 2 children in Panama
November 29, 2006
Army personnel from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, deployed to Panama as part of a humanitarian disaster task force, evacuated two Panamanian women and a baby from a village where they were stranded due to recent flooding.
The military team was sent out on a mission to deliver food and water to what they thought was a small group of people in Santa Rosa, but turned out to be a very large group who had no water supply because their only well caved in as result of the recent flooding.
While getting a census of the people in this area, the team discovered there were people who needed medical assistance, one of which was a 3-month-old baby girl suffering from respiratory problems. The baby was evacuated to an airport in Penonome, Panama, where the military team turned her over to Panamanian medical personnel.
"We decided to evacuate the baby because we heard fluid in her lungs, she had shallow respiration, and would stop breathing at times," said U.S. Army Corporal Padgett, a medic on the search and rescue team deployed here.
Just after touching down at the former Howard Air Force Base to pick up another shipment of food and water supply, the team received a call about two women in labor in another village, and the same team went out to assist them.
"Both women were in labor, but not to the point where we had to make a split-second decision on whether to deliver the babies there [in the village] or if we had time to get them here [Marcos Gelabert Airport]," said Corporal Padgett. "We made the decision to evacuate them because one of the women was in premature labor and not dilated enough to give birth, and the other woman was in labor, but birth was not imminent."
"With advanced care, like she will receive at a hospital, I think both women will be able to give birth successfully without complications," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Vincent Codispoti, a firefighter and emergency medical technician who assisted with the evacuation.
Corporal Padgett added that one of the women was six hours into labor with what he believed to be her first child, and the other woman, who has three children already, was in labor, but very aware of what was going on and told them not to worry because she had plenty of time.
In the same village, the team also found a young boy who had an enlarged kidney and was suffering from urinary problems. The team added the child and his mother to the manifest and evacuated them to Marcos Gelabert Airport with the pregnant women.
At the time of this release, the conditions of the patients were unknown.
Approximately 50 U.S. military personnel from Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, have been deployed to Panama since Nov. 25 as part of a humanitarian disaster task force to provide assistance to Panamanian civilians affected by recent flooding. The group deployed at the request of the Panamanian government through the U.S. Embassy in Panama, and is providing airlift support by delivering much-needed supplies to people in areas inaccessible by other means, medical assistance, and data collection on damaged areas, as well as doing search and rescue missions and casualty evacuations.
The areas affected by the flooding are the city of Colon and surrounding areas of the Departments of Colon and the Comarca of San Blas (Kuna Yala) in northern Panama and in northern areas of Cocle Province.
U.S. personnel will continue operations for the next 24 hours from the Panama Emergency Operations Center, which is located at the former Howard Air Force Base.