Filed under: Soma Norodom
On August 5, 2012, several bloggers and I were invited by the U.S. Embassy to tour the USNS Mercy, which arrived in Cambodia, in Sihanoukville, the final stop for Pacific Partnership 2012 tour.
Mission Pacific Partnership is the largest annual humanitarian and civic assistance mission in the Asia Pacific Region. The host nations for the Pacific Partnership 2012 includes; Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, providing civil assistance projects (CAP) in the areas of medical, dental, veterinary, and civil engineering services.
The U.S. joint military services, interagency and civilian mariner personnel are joined this year in Cambodia by the partner nations of Australia, Canada, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, and the Philippines. This 5 month mission that started in May, in San Diego, California, has a staff of 1,200 U.S. Navy medical personnel and 70 civil service mariners, focusing on the ultimate goal of being prepared to respond together in natural disasters and crisis situations.
The USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) is a medical treatment facility capable of performing surgeries on board, and with four X-rays and a CT scan unit on the ship, some of the medical treatments performed included hernias, cataracts, and burns.
The USNS Mercy, 894 feet, started as an oil supertanker, in 1976, in San Diego, California. In July 1984, she was converted to a hospital ship and launched in July 1985. The USNS Mercy is now the lead ship of her class of hospital ships in the U.S. Navy.
Our VIP tour started at Pochentong Air Base, and the special guests included popular bloggers in Cambodia; Phin Santel, Dara Saoyuth, Kounila Keo, Bon Sovathary, Tharum Bun, Chap Chetra, and Un Yarat, the Webmaster/Social Media Assistant in the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy.
We were transported to Sihanoukville by the U.S. Navy helicopter, and it was an experience for all of us. Earlier we had a briefing of the safety procedure and what to do if there was a crash. I just remember the most important element; to pull the chord on my vest after I am out of the helicopter. But luckily, there were no issues that day.
After the USNS Mercy tour by Maria Lohmeyer, we flew to Koh Kong Province to visit the MED-CAP facility, with Dennis Flores as our guide. Patients waited in line to get medical and dental treatments from the staff of Pacific Partnership 2012. The facility is open from 8:30am-4:30pm, daily, with Sunday, being the busiest day, in which the staff saw over 850 patients in the areas of pediatrics, adult medicine, dental, and ophthalmology.
With a VIP police escort to Koh Kong and back, the team and I, along with Chris Fowler, Blogger, and Social Media Professional for Pacific Partnership 2012, flew back to Sihanoukville, to the USNS Mercy. The helicopter needed to be refueled, before heading back home to Phnom Penh.
I would like to thank the U.S. Embassy for the invitation, and to the entire staff of Pacific Partnership 2012 for their warm hospitality. It brought back fond memories of living in the U.S., with conversations about In-N-Out Burgers, California beaches, and the south, Alabama, Georgia, and of course, Tabasco Sauce from Avery Island in Louisiana. This was a fun-filled, educational, and adventurous trip for us all.
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