CAMP CINTRON, Haiti -- The sun rises over the Combined Joint Task Force compound as bleary-eyed service members make their way to their work sections. One small unit musters by the camp’s corner tents.
The medical staff looks up at the morning sky, wondering what challenges this day might bring.
They’ve dealt with everything from a multiple injury accident in the local community to caffeine overdoses, from everyday cuts and abrasions to performing lifesaving surgeries since their recent arrival here.
The medical staff of Charlie Surgical Company, 2nd Force Service Support Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, prepares for another day of helping out their brothers and sisters-in-arms at Camp Cintron.
Charlie Surgical Co. is comprised of 70 personnel, whereas a typical surgical company would contain between 200 to 225 members. Because of its size, Charlie Co. is considered a surgical company minus.
Small though they might be, the staff put in their fair share of work, and waste no time in performing their duties.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Vernon Goss, sick call screener and psychiatric technician, said most of the unit arrived here in late March, and was operational within 16 hours. Components like the operating room, ward and shock stabilizing triage were up and running in less than 24 hours, he said.
“We’ve been noticed by the (commander),” Goss explained.
But the commander isn’t the only one looking Charlie’s way. The technician said the French, Canadian and Chilean medical personnel have paid them visits, hoping to learn from their experience.
“It’s been a learning experience, working with a multinational force,” Goss continued. Every nation is working together to ensure the troops get the best care possible, he added.
“It’s pretty interesting to work with all the different nations and all the different branches,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel L. Espinoza, Charlie Surgical Company corpsman who serves as a translator between the U.S. and Chilean personnel.
Navy Cmdr. Roland Arellano, CJTF surgeon, appreciates the hard work and dedication every one of his staff members put into their work.
“The corpsmen really like working in these kinds of environments,” Arellano said.
“The way they handled the (multiple injury accident) was a good team effort,” he continued, referring to an incident in which a vehicle loaded with local Haitian workers overturned.
The CJTF medical staff coordinated effectively with Marine Air Ground Task Force-8 personnel to treat the wounded, Arellano stated. The units do what is called ‘cross leveling,’ which is when one unit gives another medical supplies if the requestor is low on them. For incidents such as mass casualties and multiple injury accidents, units also help one another out with personnel, he added.
The company also works effectively with medical personnel from other military branches as well as those of foreign nations.
“We’ve got support from the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Army and the Air Force,” Goss said.
Arellano says his people have also treated an emergency appendectomy flown in from a Coast Guard cutter 20 miles off shore, and removed shrapnel from two French soldiers involved in an accidental grenade detonation.
When they’re not dealing with medical emergencies, Arellano said Charlie Surgical Company performs everyday battalion aid station duties, such as sick call and ensuring that all personnel checking into the task force receive their anti-malaria medication.
To top it off, the company staff goes on humanitarian aid missions with the unit’s civil affairs personnel.
The CJTF medical staff has also been distributing medical supplies to the local community, Arellano added.
Whatever the mission may be, and wherever it may take them, any injured or ill member of Combined Joint Task Force Haiti may rest easy in the able hands of Charlie Surgical Co.