By TIMOTHY WILSON
Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs
KOROR, Palau—Medical personnel from U.S. Naval Hospital Guam partnered with various security forces from Palau to learn lifesaving techniques, first-responder skills, and best medical practices over a weeklong seminar aboard USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo.
The training was part of a Theater Security Cooperation initiative that included multiple interagency training events that were coordinated and facilitated by the U.S. Defense Representative Political-Military Affairs office. Two independent duty corpsman from Naval Hospital Guam facilitated the seminar.
“The training went superbly, it was a great experience because it was a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on skills,” said Chief Hospitalman Sharon Calmese, a Tactical Casualty Combat Care instructor from Naval Hospital Guam. “The Palauans came in with virtually no medical experience and transformed into first responders, taking care of the needs of wounded personnel and being able to respond to casualty treatment situations.”
Twenty-three members of the Palauan Department of Justice, fire, police, airport security, and maritime forces, as well as civilian staff from the Bobo, practiced basic first aid, shipboard emergency tactics, and lifesaving techniques.
“Medical training is not an inherent skill set and not something immediately learned but we were able to establish a foundation of knowledge and the students really took on the philosophy of what we were trying to teach,” said Chief Hospitalman Stephen Royall, a Basic Life Support instructor from Naval Hospital Guam.
Many students expressed their gratitude and newly found confidence in the skills acquired during the training.
“I thank Chief Calmese and Chief Royall for their dedication, professionalism and support,” said Yvonn Temeteet, a Palauan police academy cadet. “They took the time to teach us many necessary skills.”
After intensive classroom training, the students underwent actual casualty care scenarios aboard the Bobo such as responding to electrocution scenarios, fire, and medical emergencies.
“Now I feel ready,” said Bion Blunt, a conservation officer for the Peleliu state government. “The training provided will help me to save lives of the people of my country.”
Calmese said every student was a joy to work with because their professionalism was contagious. She said they all studied very hard to learn the necessary skills and it was apparent when the hands-on portion of the class tested these skill sets.
“The Palauans were so excited to participate in the courses provided,” she said. “I received a lot of feedback from them saying that they wished this training was provided in the past and that they look forward to more training in the future.”
Royall said he hopes future TSC initiatives will occur and encourages continual reinforcement of medical practices to strengthen the existing partnership with Palau.
“We are at a start of a potentially great process,” said Royall. “The Palauans know what being a first responder means and how to react in these situations. However, medical training is something that you need to continually train and practice. Hopefully, this is the beginning where people from Guam can come out in the future and provide training and get to a point where they can begin to train themselves.”
Calmese said that regardless of one’s position or title, being a first responder may occur any time or anywhere. Knowing, understanding, and being able to apply basic lifesaving skills is a lifelong pursuit and future TSC operations in the Pacific region, not only in Palau, can only benefit the U.S. and its partner nations.
“Their enthusiasm carried to Chief Royall, myself, the ship’s crew, to everyone,” Calmese said. “It made the training all the more pervasive in the sense it also built the confidence necessary to execute these skills.”
Capt. Glen Remias, commodore of Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron 3 and commanding officer of the Bobo, lauded the efforts of the corpsman and said their efforts played a significant role in providing medical skills to the security forces of Palau.
“These skills are of intrinsic value to everyone since these types of eventualities can occur,” he said. “We came to be purposeful and we had an opportunity to provide meaningful, productive skill sets while increasing our bilateral relationship with Palau.”
Royall said that on the surface it may have seemed like a small training environment aboard the ship. However, the far-reaching implications carry a much greater weight.
“This is what we do as a profession, acting in a capacity to engage from Guam and help people on other islands to increase knowledge, capabilities and abilities,” he said. “So this was not a small accomplishment, rather a global opportunity that needs to be continued. This was truly a team effort and a successful mission.”