June 17, 2010

Medical personnel from the Virginia Guard and Defense Force host Tajikistan counterparts

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND, VA – Members of the Virginia Defense Force and the Virginia Army and Air National Guard hosted medical officers from Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense May 17-21 to discuss emergency medical response operations.


Members of the Virginia Defense Force coordinated for hospital visits for medical officers from Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense during the visit to Virginia from May 17 to 21. (Contributed photo)

As part of the visit, medical personnel from each organization provided lectures on emergency response operations. This is the first time the VDF played a role in helping to host the Tajiks, and VDF members arranged conference rooms and tours at the Saint Francis Medical Center, Bon Secours Virginia and the Sheltering Arms Hospital South. The Saint Francis Medical Center even hosted a luncheon for the guests with a menu picked especially for the cultural exchange. 

Along with the hospital tour, each organization individually presented their roles in an emergency response with an underlying theme of ensuring forces are medically, dentally, and psychologically ready. Briefers also stressed the training and credentialing of responders for the Defense Support of Civil Authorities and its supporting operations.

“Many of their facilities are in remote areas,” said Lt. Col. Bill Mahoney Virginia State Partnership coordinator. “It means a lot to the Tajiks that we are willing to teach them medical techniques as well as ‘buddy care’ for critical situations out in the field.”

The lectures included a variety of topics within the emergency medical response operations umbrella. Some of the topics that were presented included public health collaboration from the within Virginia’s military organizations, medical readiness and training support of the Air National Guard, disaster management/public health assistance,  and the activation of non-uniformed civilian professionals in a disaster and/or public health emergency in support of the Department of Health.
“The visitors really seemed to enjoy the hospitality and even got to observe a med flight evacuation,” said Lt. Col. Timothy M. Silver, VDF medical commander and medical director of Sheltering Arms Hospital South. “This was particularly timely in that one of the lecture topics was on evacuations by helicopter of wounded. The hospitals and staff truly recognized the importance and enjoyed being part of such a cultural exchange.”

Aside from the medical discussions, the visit became a cultural learning experience. Silver explained he learned a tremendous amount during the week long experience. The cultural exchange continued afterhours and during the social times. Each participant exchanged gifts near the end, and finished the visit with an outdoor cookout.           

Throughout the visit, Silver’s experiences taught him that giving a lecture through an interpreter takes patience and flexibility.

“The timing of the presentations was planned at about 30 minutes. We also allowed time for translating which we thought would take no more than equal time. We did not anticipate that the questions and explanations added to the translations would take almost twice the allotted time,” Silver said. “Universally, all of our presenters were able to modify their talks as they progressed through them. This was done to meet the needs of the audience, demonstrating not only flexibility but also professionalism. It was an enjoyable experience.”

“This is really the first time that the VDF has joined in on this partnership and very important mission,” Silver said. “It has been a pleasure and an honor being an integral part of the overall leadership team. As a volunteer physician, I see no better way to give back to the community.”

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