Nineteen patients from American Samoa requiring non-COVID-19 related medical care and 13 escorts arrived June 9 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii on a U.S. Navy C-40 flight as part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency support mission.
At the request of FEMA, the U.S. military, under its Defense Support of Civil Authorities role, enabled this group of medical patients, many elderly, to access the health care they needed. This is in keeping with the DSCA tenets of saving lives and mitigating human suffering during declared emergencies.
"Personally, it was good to be able to make a positive contribution towards alleviating the difficulties being experienced by my fellow Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Navy Capt., David Lum, emergency preparedness liaison for COVID-19 response in Hawaii and American Samoa.
A total of 47 passengers were on the flight including members of the 44th Medical Brigade's, First Area Medical Laboratory, who were serving in American Samoa as part of the FEMA support mission and providing expertise and the critical lab equipment for additional COVID-19 testing capability.
Military air was the only option for transporting passengers due to the suspension of commercial passenger flights to American Samoa from March 26 until June 30, 2020.
The flight was the result of a strong collaborative effort between the Joint military forces in the Pacific, FEMA, and the Government of American Samoa, according to Lum.
The original outbound flight from Hawaii brought back Representative Amata C. Radewagen of the U.S. House of Representatives to American Samoa.