By Maj. Kerry Clark, 102nd Medical Group
/ Published May 05, 2014
OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- Recently, Senior Master Sgt. Cynthia Thomas and I had the pleasure of traveling to Paraguay, our state's partner-country. If you are not familiar with the State Partnership Program (SPP), National Guard units in nearly every state, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, have entered into agreements with foreign countries. These partnerships, which in some cases date back to 1992, focus on activities and training that includes disaster management, military medicine, search and rescue operations, and more. The ways we assist other countries vary based on the needs of the partner nation, our capabilities, and the goals of the respective U.S. Ambassador.
While in Paraguay, Sgt. Thomas and I assisted in providing training in triage, patient decontamination, and evacuation procedures. Although the primary focus surrounded Chemical, Bioligical, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) operations, we had the opportunity to hear about Paraguayan emergency response techniques, visit a military/civilian hospital, and meet with some high-ranking Paraguayan military leaders.
During the trip, we spent the majority of our time working out of the Paraguayan equivalent to the Pentagon and the U.S. Embassy, where we met US Ambassador James Thessin. We also had the privilege of meeting Gen. Jorge Francisco, the Paraguayan Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff.
In August, a number of Army personnel and a select few from the 102d MDG will be returning to Paraguay.