Last Tuesday, Dec. 3, U.S. Army members on a routine training mission evacuated a Honduran infant in the throes of pneumonia from a remote village, ultimately saving her life, the U.S. Southern Command reported on Monday.
Members of the Joint Task Force-Bravo’s Medical Element (MEDEL) and 1-228th Aviation Regiment were in the remote Honduran village of Auka carrying out a medical training readiness exercise when a mother arrived, carrying her child and asking for medical assistance.
“She was one of three infants in the village to have pneumonia, and the other two had already passed away. She had respiratory distress and severe pneumonia, and we quickly assessed the need for a MEDEVAC,” or a medical evacuation, said U.S. Army Capt. Vicki English, Joint Task Force-Bravo MEDEL, according to a statement from Joint Task Force-Bravo.
The 6-week-old infant had “severe pneumonia, poor gas exchange and was severely dehydrated,” the statement described.
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter assigned to the 1-228th Aviation Regiment ferried the baby to a hospital in Puerto Lempira waiting to attend to the young patient.
U.S. Army Capt. Diane Klescewski, a member of the MEDEL team, said she had to resuscitate the baby girl when she briefly stopped breathing en route to the hospital.
With medical attention the child stabilized the next day.
“Of course, you never want there to be a need for a MEDEVAC mission, but you are glad to have the capability to be there and provide it when it is needed,” said U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Morisoli, who piloted the helicopter. “Anytime we can provide that service and save a life, it’s truly rewarding.”