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International Medical Conference Shares Perspective, Builds Partnership

14 September 2023

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rion Codrington

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti (August 24, 2023) – Medical providers and technicians across Camp Lemonnier and from partner nations who are deployed and located in Djibouti gathered during a monthly international medical conference hosted by CLDJ’s Expeditionary Medical Facility, August 24.
Japanese, French, Italian, and Spanish medical personnel are invited monthly to discuss and exchange ideas encouraging partnership, interoperability, and the safety of deployed service members in future medical operations or emergencies.

“Following the COVID-19 pandemic, there came an opportunity where we started to reengage with our partner nation’s medical forces around the base and it turned into this recurring monthly conference,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jacob Cole, CLDJ EMF director of surgical services.

As the only role 2 medical facility in the region, EMF provides care like emergency medicine, dental services, and physical therapy for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines on Camp Lemonnier and U.S. personnel who deployed within the region.

“We take patients in who have life-threatening injuries and we provide surgeries that will stabilize them, but not necessarily fix the ultimate problem,” said Cole.

For long-term medical treatment at a role 4 medical facility, U.S. service members are sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, requiring time and resources.

“There’s a human resource, the human factor cost,” said Cole. “Not only are we losing a service member to Germany for a prolonged period of time, but they require an escort as well as a flight, which is a very expensive proposition.”

As a result, EMF began looking for support from partner and allied nation medical forces as well as local practitioners to perform operations and expand their capabilities.

“To have our local partner nations’ support should there be a catastrophe, is very important,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Ellie Mentler, CLDJ EMF’s general surgeon. “We’re very limited in our medical resources, so to have access to all the resources the French, Japanese, and Italians have to offer is great.”

The conference, as well as additional joint medical training, brings the EMF and partner nations’ medical forces together to strategize for emergency scenarios where interoperability is necessary to expedite treatment for life-threatening injuries.

“The conference is an opportunity for us to increase our medical knowledge,” said French Lt. Col. Hugues de Martene, Djibouti joint medical-surgical center medical chief. “It’s important to learn together because we work together daily, especially in emergencies or massive casualties.”

For partner nations and local medical facilities, the conference gives a better understanding of each other capabilities and potential.

“All of our allied and partner nations have a different approach to medical care,” said Cole. “Having a familiarization in their operations is absolutely necessary if there’s an emergency where we have to work with them.”

Camp Lemonnier is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied, and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia.

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