U.S. Army medical teams helped manage the aftermath of a fire that broke out in July on a Peruvian ship participating in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise in Hawaii.
The Peruvian Navy corvette Guise was the only ship the nation sent this year to RIMPAC, the largest international maritime exercise. After its engine room caught fire on July 17, two sailors with burns covering up to 75% of their bodies had to be medically evacuated to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“The initial call came in around 10 a.m. to the Tripler Emergency Department and from there we began opening the appropriate lines on communication to ensure that we were prepared to receive these patients,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Lambe, NCO in charge of Tripler’s emergency department, in an Army news release.
Tripler assembled two trauma teams made up of surgeons, emergency room physicians, nurses, medics, radiology, blood bank, and respiratory therapists, according to the Army release.
Cmdr. Sean Robertson previously told Defense News in a statement that reports of the fire and potential injuries were received at about 8:40 a.m. in Hawaii, and that the blaze was extinguished at approximately 1:40 p.m.
The two sailors were first evacuated from the ship by a French helicopter to the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Midgett and later to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, Robertson told Defense News. Then a Navy helicopter brought them ashore.
After the two sailors were stabilized, they were brought to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for long-term treatment.
“This emergency underscores the importance of the close relationships that we have here in Hawaii between the community hospitals and the military,” said U.S. Army Col. Bill Soliz, Tripler’s commander. “The close coordination in this case ensured we were able to provide necessary medical care to a partner nation.”
An MQ-9A Reaper drone also helped respond to the incident by communicating intelligence on the rescue effort, an Air Force press release said earlier in August.
“By about 40-50 miles out, we could kind of see where the ship was,” said the Reaper pilot, U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonathan Overy. “We were using our infrared camera, which makes any heat signatures stick out, especially on the water and with the ship. You could really see that the hull below the deck was a lot hotter and a lot brighter than everything else.”
Twenty-six nations, 38 ships, four submarines, more than 170 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in RIMPAC from June 29 to Aug. 4 in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media