PACANGEL 12-1: Iceman Helps Meet Pharmaceutical Needs
By Tetsuo Nakahara
From U.S. Army Japan PA
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – A pharmacy technician from Eielson Air Force Base was one of several Airmen who participated in Operation PACIFIC ANGEL in the Philippines during March 2012.
Teams of Airmen and other military personnel coordinated with the local government to provide humanitarian assistance, including basic medical care, to more than 8,500 locals.
Master Sgt. Hilda Holmes, 354th Medical Support Squadron pharmacy technician, has participated in multiple humanitarian and disaster relief operations like PACANGEL.
“It’s a joint effort to show them a better way of living and providing basic care – optometry, dental and general medicine,” said Holmes.
Prior to arriving at Legazpi City, the bed-down unit made preparations to ensure personnel and supplies had everything necessary, including medical facilities, dining tents and designated sleeping areas.
“It’s a special group that starts a base from the ground [up] like a tent city,” said Holmes. “And they are totally self-sufficient with … all the equipment that’s ever needed. They have their security team, their [civil engineer] people [and] their loadmasters. Every year they have to exercise their capabilities and to make sure their equipment is in good [shape]. They actually set up our tent city on the tarmac at Legazpi Airport in the Philippines.”
Holmes said participating in humanitarian relief operations helps solidify the purpose of a pharmacy technician. It stresses the need for pharmacy technicians to rely upon training and work independently to provide basic needs to both the pharmacy and patient.
“It narrows the gap between training and real-world applications,” Holmes said. “It creates confidence and competent Airmen capable of performing the job asked of them.”
As a pharmacy technician you may have to work by yourself, she said, speaking with local physicians to determine proper dosage and medication for patients – sometimes without computers, but still providing locals with the best medical treatment possible.
Airmen from civil engineer squadrons also offered assistance by demonstrating better building practices and helping renovate unsafe structures or dilapidated buildings in the region. Developing nations often face a challenge when it comes to maintaining infrastructures and services, and humanitarian efforts give local populations something back, said Holmes.
“Instead of building a school from the ground up, they’ll have our engineers work with their engineers to show them proper practices or safer practices,” she said. “They’ll remodel with assistance from [government workers].”
Overall, Holmes enjoyed her latest adventure and recommends everyone take opportunities to volunteer their time. Traveling abroad to faraway places and going to a third-world country not only creates a well-rounded individual but provides an eye-opening cultural experience.
“It’s a rewarding experience to have real interactions with people and to see how grateful they are,” Holmes said. “Just to get to see how other people live — their everyday way of life is something memorable.”
PACANGEL continues to offer humanitarian aid and assistance to those in need within the Pacific region. Disaster and humanitarian relief is done with the cooperation of all service branches and operations are conducted throughout the region in hopes of reaching out to affected populations.
This article was originally published at: http://www.eielson.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123299132
-PACOM: (posted April 24, 2012)-
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