A group of U.S. military medical officers attended a disaster medical response seminar May 10, 2014, at the Bouffard French Military Hospital (Le Groupement médico-chirurgical Bouffard) to share methodology and techniques associated with disaster medical response.
Doctors from the French Defense Health Service (Service de santé des armées), U.S. Navy and World Health Organization (WHO) gave presentations during the seminar.
“The French are our closest Coalition partners, have the largest medical contingent and most time in country,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Matteucci, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) senior medical officer. “The seminar was part of what we call medical exchanges.
Matteucci said the EMF team has benefited learning from French doctors who are adept at operating in austere conditions with limited resources. The U.S. doctors, in turn, share how they use state of the art equipment and techniques.
In addition to seminars, exchanges include direct surgeon-to-surgeon interaction in the operating room.
“Some of us will go two days a week,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr Jeffrey Lowell, CJTF-HOA medical officer, and St. Louis native.
“We have an excellent relationship we’ve built with the French surgical team there. I go with our anesthesiologist, nurse and two corpsmen and we’ll work with them there.”
Lowell has worked on roughly 20 cases at Bouffard and performed surgeries to include pediatric gastrointestinal tract procedures, gall bladder procedures and treatment of snake bites.
“The French surgical team is excellent,” Lowell said. “We learn from them; they learn from us. We work together in the operating room. Their surgical, technical experience is excellent. They’re highly qualified and it’s always good to do ‘left-seat, right seat’ with a skilled pilot. And it’s not one unique, ‘gotcha, ah-ha’ kind of thing, but just seeing different ways of doing things.”
Lowell said he has made lifelong friends with his colleagues.
“Because most of us aren’t fluent in French and they aren’t fluent in English it helps our relationship -- because we really have to concentrate on what each other are saying,” Lowell said. “I get percentage of the words and give them a read-back to let them know what I think they are saying.
“For me this has been one of the highlights of my deployment.”