Friday, April 18, 2014

Military's Medical Corps, Troops Responding to Disasters

The multi-role ship Sargento Aldea is docked in Iquique, conducting dozens of operations and other medical treatments. The city's main hospital was damaged in the April 1 earthquake, and the ship's medical facilities are picking up the slack. Civilian and Navy doctors have performed 27 surgeries on the ship, of both earthquake victims and patients who were forced off the hospital. This is the first time the Sargento Aldea is used as a floating hospital to handle a natural disaster, and it's precisely how Chile envisioned using it when it acquired the vessel from France in 2011. The Army has deployed a field hospital, which has treated more than 300 victims, delivered 45 newborns and operated on 22 patients. The armed forces continue to patrol the region and the port city of Valparaiso, where a wildfire burned hundreds of homes. FACh, for example, took its anti-aircraft and special forces troops to handle security, medical and emergency-shelter operations. Troops are patrolling the fire and earthquake zones under a special constitutional provision that lets the president send out the military to the streets during natural disasters. In the first several weeks of her new term, President Michelle Bachelet has invoked the so-called State of Constitutional Exception for Catastrophes twice already. The special rule also lets the president appoint military commanders to take control of stricken communities.

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