The Philanthropic Role of the Armed Forces
By Dialogo April 01, 2010
A day after the earthquake that shook Haiti, an outpouring of aid and solidarity for the Caribbean nation took place around the world, and Colombia was no exception. Immediately, the national government, represented by the armed forces, along with the Red Cross and the Civil Defense agency, among other national entities, took an active role in supporting the Haitian population.
The Colombian Army deployed a sizable team of medical and logistical personnel, in coordination with the Colombian Air Force, which has always been ready to provide the necessary support.
Starting on January 13, 2010, when the first group of Colombian military personnel was sent to Haiti, the teams carried out vital humanitarian work. They had four orthopedists, five primary care physicians, an anesthesiologist, a head nurse, 16 combt nurses, eight noncommissioned officers and an equal number of career soldiers with vast experience in war-related trauma.
The Army sent three tents equipped with portable operating rooms, anesthesia equipment, operating tables, instrument tables and 50 cots to strengthen the field hospital’s capabilities. The hospital had a capacity for 200 patients a day, with specialized military medical personnel ready to care for the earthquake victims around the clock.
“The first thing we did when we got to Haiti was to stay in the airport caring for patients in transit on their way to other countries. Later on, we moved to another location, where a field hospital was set up; we operated there on more than 116 patients with fractures,” Army Col. Daniel Segura explained.
It was on a soccer field, in extremely hot conditions, that the military field hospital was set up. This location provided victims access to specialized medical care.
The Colombian military doctors became true medical authorities, both for the Haitians and for their foreign colleagues. With the experience gained in Colombia’s internal conflict, they applied their knowledge to a variety of situations in trauma management, surgery, rehabilitation and orthopedics.