JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Two Army medics from Brooke Army Medical Center were part of a team that received the opportunity to participate in a Medical Readiness Exercise conducted from July 19-27 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Spc. Damien Allen and Pfc. Lillian Straw were able to complete rotations through the emergency room at Hospital Escuela, a teaching hospital that serves as the main center for public health care in Honduras. The medics also assisted two BAMC urological surgical teams split between Hospital Escuela and Hospital Maria, a public pediatric hospital.

"The recent mission to Honduras was an important step for medics everywhere," Allen said. "As a medic we need to have skills that are specific to trauma and those are not very easy for us to get hands-on experience while stateside working in clinics.

"My first day there, within 30 minutes of being in the hospital, I was engaged with patient care and assisting with procedures and pre-operating appointments," Allen said.

The medics were able to work side-by-side with Honduran medical personnel, and under the supervision of a medical provider, they were able to assist with intubation, sutures and wound care.

"Intubation is a skill medics need to have to be more effective while downrange," Allen explained. "It is a skill that is hard to practice while here at BAMC, but while in Honduras I was able to intubate without hesitations, and work with severe trauma to my full potential."

BAMC leaders created the 68W Utilization Program to ensure Army medics have the opportunity to maintain the skills they need when deployed. Both Allen and Straw were able to practice these skills in Honduras as well as here at BAMC.

"This was an excellent opportunity for them to learn," said Sgt. 1st Class Presley Aroca, 68W Utilization Program coordinator. "It's important for our medics to be able to adjust to barriers such as not speaking the language, using limited resources and the stressor of being in an environment that is not your home."

"Having that exposure is invaluable," he added.

Allen praised the opportunities he has received at BAMC and the benefits of the 68W Utilization Program.

"At BAMC being able to move around such as going from a clinic to the ED allows us to keep our trauma skills current while adding on patient care skills," Allen said. "We want to be well rounded medics. We want to know everything we can about all aspects of patient care and our command team has heard what we want and is making that happen for us."

As for the MEDRETE in Honduras, Allen said if given the chance he "would return in a heartbeat."