Keesler medics deploy to aid Chile

         

BILOXI

A fully equipped team from the 81st Medical Group at Keesler Air Force Base left for Chile on Sunday to help victims of the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that hit Feb. 27.

The 60-member team of doctors, field medics, surgical nurses and support staff assembled at Base Operations at Keesler for the first leg of the 48-hour trip.

Lt. Col. Chris Morgan, 81st Medical Support Squadron medical readiness flight commander, said Keesler was called because the mobile hospital is light and the medical team can move quickly.

He said their latest reports from Chile’s National Emergency Office show the death toll at 799 with almost 74 percent of the deaths occurring in the area where the unit will set up the field hospital.

“Ten hospitals in Chile have been evacuated due to damage,” Morgan said. “We expect to treat 3,000 to 5,000 people. We will treat anyone who needs it, from first responders to the locals.”

The team and a cargo plane packed with medical equipment will set up a hospital on a soccer field at an army base in Angol, Chile, which is about 300 miles south of Santiago and near the most heavily damaged areas.

The team is expected to operate the hospital up to 30 days but could return in two weeks.

When the unit sets up on the field it will operate like a hospital including beds, intensive care units, an operating room, triage areas and traveling medics.

At any given time, several hundred people associated with the medical group will be rotating in and out of Keesler, going to battle zones or on medical deployments.

By LEIGH COLEMAN – SUN HERALD

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