AFP, US evacuate injured in wake of Typhoon Haiyan
PASAY, Republic of the Philippines — The Republic of the Philippines was struck by Typhoon Haiyan Nov. 7, bringing with it some of the most damaging winds and rain in recorded history. The storm impacted millions of people and left hundreds of thousands homeless, in desperate need of assistance.
Since the storm struck, militaries and volunteers from across the world have assisted the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Government of the Philippines to evacuate displaced personnel needing to travel to safety.
The role of U.S. military forces during any foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation is to rapidly respond with support to help mitigate human suffering, prevent further loss of life, and mitigate greater property damage. The first stop for the majority of evacuees departing via Marine Corps aircraft has been Villamor Air Base in the capital city of Manila.
The journey to safety and peace of mind may not end when they arrive at Villamor. Upon arrival, evacuees are triaged to determine their health status and care needs.
Medical staff with the AFP, U.S. Navy and countless volunteers, process approximately 2,000 evacuees per day at Villamor, according to Lt. Cmdr. Eduardo M. Jimenez, the medical planner for 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force, currently in support of Joint Task Force 505.
“Casualty evacuation is one of the most important things in any type of mission,” said Jimenez.
U.S. personnel and AFP are working together to ensure everyone receives the appropriate medical attention.
“We had multiple (injured people) coming in today, and I was on the flight line (getting) the ambulances to the aircraft,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Jay Elliott, the operations chief for 3rd MEB.
Providing assistance to injured and displaced personnel gives the Marines a valuable life experience.
“There have been six different times I have carried people out of planes since arriving here,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher E. Pring, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 4, currently assigned to 3rd MEB. “I have never been able to help this many people before, and after doing it for the first time, it has been a humbling experience.”
Members of the AFP greatly appreciate the assistance the international community is providing to their country.
“The Marines are able to help us transport all of the people who are in need here,” said Pvt. Lanaque R. Damilo, a security guard with the 1305th Community Defense Group, Army Reserve Command, 501st Battalion, 15th Infantry Division, Philippine Army.
Working alongside the AFP has also had a significant and positive impact on the Marines involved in Operation Damayan.
“Some of the people who come through here have lost everything they have ever known to the typhoon and they come out of the planes with a smile on their face because they are happy to see us help,” said Pring. “I know they would do the same thing for me, and that makes it all worthwhile.”