PACAF medics build trust with Nepalese counterparts

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tilli Ghale
  • 35th Medical Support Squadron

U.S. and Nepalese Forces participated in a medical subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 14 to 17.

The U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) international health specialist division, PACAF Surgeon General Office and Army Regional Health Command Pacific trained with their Nepalese counterparts to discuss humanitarian assistance for disaster relief, search and rescue, peacekeeping operations in public health areas and mass casualty behavioral health management.

Nepal army Maj. Gen. SK Singh, the directorate general of medical services, said the Nepal army and Nepal Medical Corps plays a pivotal role in mass casualty humanitarian assistance and disaster response throughout the region.

“This is the first time we have combined behavioral health, public health, patient movement and mass casualty management allowing medical responders to assess and respond to disasters with a holistic approach,” explained Singh.

Nepalese army Maj. Bikal Shrestha, the Department of Medicine assistant professor, said the joint exchange strengthened the U.S. and Nepal relationship in the Indo-Pacific region through face-to-face integrated training.

“This exchange not only improves interoperability between the U.S. and Nepalese Army but gives an opportunity to build partnerships with nations fostering medical support and friendships,” said Shrestha.

The Nepalese army requested additional training on how the U.S. structures its enlisted force.

“The subject matter expert exchange gave me the opportunity to showcase the level of training, professionalism and passion the enlisted corps embodies,” said Tech. Sgt. Necita Aldan, the 35th Aerospace Medicine Squadron force health protection NCO in charge. “This was a great event to learn and grow from different experiences and expertise.”

Capt. Tilli Ghale, a 35th Medical Support Squadron medical services corps officer and SMEE lead, explained how SMEE exercises enhance the Nepalese army’s understanding of U.S. incident command structure and patient movement capabilities with the establishment of their first-ever fixed wing medical transport system and revised national disaster management plan.

U.S. Army Maj. Cara Cox Coleman, a Tripler Army Medical Center clinical psychologist, provided briefings on behavioral health and access to care, clearing up misconceptions about mental health, which helped facilitate better medical care during flood tabletop exercises.

“I thoroughly enjoyed participating in this engagement,” said Coleman. “The exercise was a great opportunity to share the best practices on behavioral health issues and allowed the Nepalese and U.S. contingencies to build rapport, which is vital for real world missions.”

Maj. Eric Hansen, the U.S. Air Forces Central Command deputy director of personnel recovery said, U.S. and Nepalese Forces connected and aligned with their joint and multilateral partners, increasing crisis medical capabilities.

“These exchanges expose me to new processes, concepts and tools,” said Nepalese army Capt. Pratik Regmi, a Shree Birendra Hospital medical professional. “I was impressed with the live on-line surveys conducted at the end of the exchange. It offered several mobile behavioral assessment tools, and I’ll be using this tool throughout my training.”

By the conclusion of the event, both countries united their medical logistics practices and a shared genuine agreement that engagements like this SMEE allows for the growth of alliances, multi-dimensional skills and improves stability across the Indo-Pacific region.