By Sgt. Frank StrumilaAugust 23, 2017
Soldiers of the Washington National Guard Medical Command and the Royal Thai Army provided medical care information to the community of Kanchanaburi, Thailand, Aug. 21, 2017.
Through classes, school visits, and in-home calls the MEDCOM team was able to assist the RTA in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief training, by teaching the basics of medical care, through the Co-Operative Health Engagement during Exercise Hanuman Guardian.
The information that was provided was vital to the public of Kanchanaburi as many in the region were unsure of the basic fundamentals of health care.
"A lot of times the patients here are not seen in a timely manner because they have limited understanding of any health care related topics," said Capt. Justin Stamschror, a behavioral health officer in the Washington National Guard. "When they get some training on what is an emergency, what is not an emergency, they are far more liable to bring those members of their community to the hospital."
The MEDCOM team arrived at the Sai York Hospital to meet the group of volunteers for the training. The first block of instruction began with an introduction to Basic Life Support (BLS) which includes how to contact emergency services if a patient is unresponsive, how to correctly perform CPR, and use an Automatic External Defibrillator, a device that checks heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try and restore a normal rhythm.
"This course is improving the international relationship (between the U.S. and Thailand), so we can improve healthcare services to the hospital and to the community," said Dr. Korn Mattanyupiti, a resident Royal Thai Army Physician based at Fort Surasri Hospital. "It also saves resources. If we sent our nurse, our physicians, a team to the village to see the patient, the hospital would lose those resources. So we train the volunteers, who are needed to solve the problem of man power."
The courses focused on the limited understanding within the community. The team knew to be successful the community would need to understand more complex health care related topics. They taught signs a stroke, heart attack, mosquito borne illnesses, diabetes, and the importance of oral hygiene in an understandable way.
When teaching the compression technique of CPR, 1st Lt. Kitty Sabatino, a physician's assistant with the Washington National Guard, sang that the lyrics from "Stayin' Alive," a number one hit in the 1970's by the Bee Gees, that happens to work perfectly to keep rhythm when giving compressions.
All civilian participants were volunteers from in and around the larger Kanchanaburi region. Having such a wide spread audience will ultimately allow the lessons taught during the course to affect the greatest amount of people who may not have direct access to the immediate Kanchanaburi health care system.
"We don't have many healthcare providers," said Mattanyupiti. "We train civilians in resuscitation and medicine so they can help us. They can take it (the information) and know what to do (in a medical emergency). This increases the chance of survival of the patient."
In some cases, the average emergency response time in parts of Kanchanaburi is well over an hour. "The major benefits (of the classes) are that patients will receive treatment in a timely fashion and have life-saving treatment. Many of these people had never heard of CPR before," said Stamschror.
"Being able to provide medical care in a timely fashion like we do in the United States is really important. They (the volunteers) are getting the education that time does matter when someone is in a serious medical emergency. Education is the biggest resource that we could provide to the region."