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US, Senegal launch medical exercise in Thies

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Dave Thompson,
  • U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa

THIES, Senegal - U.S. Army and Air Force medical professionals from the Vermont National Guard began a two-week medical readiness exercise with their Senegalese partners Feb. 20.

The 40-person U.S. team will work alongside Senegalese hospital professionals to treat patients in a variety of medical specialties at the Thies Regional Hospital 70 kilometers east of Dakar and at two smaller hospitals in and around Thies.

“We’re here to collaborate and build a rapport with our Senegalese partners,” said Lt. Col. James Burrows, the officer in charge of the exercise. “We’ve enjoyed a state partnership with Senegal since 2008, and these exercises build on the trust and mutual respect we have for each other.”

MEDREX is a program designed and overseen by the U.S. Southern European Task Force, Africa, that enables medical personnel from the U.S. military and partner nations to exchange medical procedures and strengthen treatment capabilities. The exercise exposes participants to unique medical delivery methods, improving their capacity to assess and deliver care. 

MEDREX Senegal 2023 is organized and executed by the Vermont National Guard State Partnership Program and administered by the National Guard Bureau.

After receiving an orientation of the three hospitals, the Vermont team separated into their medical specialties and immediately began providing patient care alongside their Senegalese counterparts. 

Working in the OB/GYN ward at Thies Regional Hospital, Capt. Joan Emerson, a registered nurse, and Staff Sgt. Christina Fontaine, doula labor support, helped deliver twin boys by cesarean section.

“It was an amazing experience and one I will never forget,” said an excited Fontaine as she recounted her first experience assisting with the delivery of twins and holding them.

“They certainly do things differently than what we’re accustomed to seeing back home,” said Emerson. “It is interesting to learn their methods and take part in this exchange.”

In addition to Senegal, the Vermont National Guard has state partnerships with North Macedonia and Austria.

The 30-year-old Department of Defense National Guard Bureau SPP program builds relationships that enhance global security, understanding and cooperation. It fosters long-term relationships across all levels of society and encourages the development of economic, political and military ties between the states and 100 partner nations.

MEDREX Senegal 2023 continues through March 2, 2023.