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SIGONELLA, Italy—A female evacuee steps inside the canvas flap of the large green tent on Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella. Her vitals are taken, and she is immediately given an IV for dehydration. A hospital corpsman takes her young son’s pulse while medical care is provided.
More than 660 evacuees from Afghanistan arrived to NAS Sigonella, a transit location, Aug. 22.
Their first stop? Medical. U.S. Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command (US NMRTC) Sigonella stood up three large medical and dental tents, providing routine, acute, and emergent care to Afghan evacuees.
US NMRTC Naples, a 40-minute flight away, surged support to NAS Sigonella and provided 28 active-duty personnel, who brought medical supplies and foldable beds. Currently, eight members from NMRTC Naples are providing critical on-site planning support, and NMRTCs Quantico, Cherry Point, and Patuxent River also deployed assets in support of the operation.
“It is an honor and a privilege to provide care to evacuees,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Denise Gechas, commanding officer, US NMRTC Sigonella. “I am so proud of our medical team for providing immediate on-site care in a safe, professional manner.”
Hospital Corpsman First Class Casey Steele, an independent duty corpsman, is also proud of the work being done here.
“This is exactly what we train for. But it’s one thing to train--it’s another to be part of something bigger than yourself. I served alongside many allies during my multiple deployments to the CENTCOM region from 2010 to 2018. They are my friends. They are our friends, and I feel immense pride to be able to help them in their transition. I just wish I could do more,” Steele said.
Steele also shared a note given to him by an Afghan patient. “From my team to all of you from the United States of America, thank you very much for helping us in this critical situation and saving our lives. The people of Afghanistan have never forgotten this friendship and cooperation,” it read.
So far, an estimated 123,00 people have evacuated from Afghanistan, and US NMRTC members from around Europe expect to provide care for all who need it.
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
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