ASHKELON, Israel -- When U.S. service members deploy outside the borders of the nation in which they are based to take part in joint and combined exercises and operations, one of the main issues is where to take American forces personnel if they become ill or injured.
To help ensure that care is available for U.S. service members now in Israel taking part in exercise Juniper Cobra 2010, a medical team from the exercise's joint task force visited the Barzilai Medical Center here Oct. 28 for a presentation and a tour of the hospital.
"The purpose of visiting the hospital is to establish a relationship with them so that they know who we are and we know who they are, and to make sure the facility has the same standard to take care of service members and be able to medically evacuate them out if need," said Maj. Sean Fortson, the doctor for JTF and an emergency room doctor with the Miesau, Germany-based 212th Combat Support Hospital.
Located only six miles from the border with Gaza, the hospital is a front line facility in a civilian area that has become uniquely equipped to deal with mass casualties due to the constant threat of rocket attacks, and treats Israelis and Palestinians alike. The hospital also has a separate facility to decontaminate victims of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks. The emergency room, which is separate from the main hospital, can be quickly converted to treat victims of such an attack.
The visiting Americans toured the hospital and participated in a presentation showcasing the facility's capacity to treat patients in mass casualty situations and asked questions regarding the type of care American servicemembers could receive and technical questions regarding evacuation and blood transfusions.
"From a military perspective, we are planning for a contingency and they are living it every day. It's good for the planners to see that," said Lt. Col. John Sanders, the U.S. Army Europe medical planner serving as the joint task force surgeon during the exercise. "Both for JC10 and real-world [situations] it is an opportunity to see where our soldiers would be cared for."