USNS Mercy welcomed by local officials in Subic Bay
SUBIC BAY, Philippines – Officials of the USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) received a warm welcome from local officials here Tuesday, August 4, as the hospital ship began the second phase of its “Pacific Partnership 2015 (PP15)” mission.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Roberto V. Garcia, who joined USNS Mercy officers during a press conference Wednesday morning, said PP15 is a great project, giving a warm welcome to its officers and the military and civilian personnel who will work and train side-by-side with the community on civic service events, women’s peace and security forums, disaster preparedness and relief efforts, and medical, dental, and veterinary subject matter exchanges.
"We are going to give you our support in any way,” Garcia said.
Olongapo City Mayor Rolen Paulino also welcomed the arrival of the hospital ship to Subic Bay, saying the Philippines and Olongapo City in particular, is lucky to be a beneficiary of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief projects of PP15.
“This is a good program and it proves the good relation that exists between Filipinos and Americans,” Paulino said.
“We appreciate all the help they can give especially about disaster preparedness and we welcome them in Olongapo anytime,” the mayor added.
The hospital ship will be in Subic Bay from August 4 to 14. During this time, multilateral training sessions will be conducted to ensure Philippine forces, US forces, and other participants from partner nations and non-governmental organizations are capable of integrating effectively to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
While in Subic Bay, medical staff aboard Mercy will perform surgical procedures, host community health engagements, and provide direct care in the Freeport and in Olongapo City.
USNS Mercy recently completed 15 days of operations in the Capiz province that included a four-day disaster preparedness symposium, search and rescue exercises, helicopter operations, and vehicle extrication training.
Additionally, a multi-national team of military and civilian medical professionals provided surgical procedures and various other treatments to citizens from Roxas City and surrounding areas.
PP15 mission commander Capt. Chris Engdahl, who described the Philippines’ disaster preparedness as the best they have seen so far in Asia, said PP15 hopes to continue on that long history between the Philippines and the United States through humanitarian assistance and disaster preparedness by conducting events.
Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership provides real-world medical care to thousands of patients, veterinary services, and critical infrastructure development to host nations through multiple engineering projects.
In addition to medical care, PP15 personnel work and train side-by-side with the community on civic service events, safety topics, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, water search and rescue, veterinarian care, and community outreach projects.
“PP15 is such a wonderful opportunity for our medical teams because they get the chance to work side-by-side with the Philippine medical community," said Capt. Melanie Merrick, the commanding officer of the medical treatment facility on board Mercy.
We learn so much from each other and this collaboration strengthens our international partnership and better prepares us to respond to natural disasters throughout the region,” she added.
The Mercy crew will also host partnership events such as a multilateral leadership forum on gender and development, partnered training events with barangay health workers, biomedical repair exchanges, and a disaster risk reduction forum intended to enhance international response to natural disasters.
PP15 participants on the ship and on the ground include personnel from the United States, Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, and New Zealand.
The hospital ship arrived with more than 900 personnel, including volunteers from non-governmental organizations. – Rappler.com