Gunston Hall Sailors, Marines Learn First Aid to Prepare for Operation Unified Response

Story Number: NNS100119-02Release Date: 1/19/2010 10:21:00 AM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Stratton, Operation Unified Response public affairs

USS GUNSTON HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- To help Sailors and embarked personnel prepare to assist the citizens of Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, medical personnel aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) held several basic first aid and life saving skills training sessions Jan. 17.

Throughout the ship, hospital corpsmen and the ship's chaplain covered topics on preventative medicine and basic life-saving skills.

The ship's chaplain also held a counseling brief to help personnel deal with the emotional toll of helping in recovery efforts.

"Overall, I think the training went well," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (FMF/SW) Tom Nagy, assigned to Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTAF). "We designed the training so that our Sailors and Marines going ashore would know how to treat someone they may encounter that has a fracture or broken bones. It also, hopefully, taught them to use what resources are around them to treat the wounded."

Knowing what to do and how to treat the wounded while in Haiti will save Gunston Hall's medical staff time to assists in the effort.

"The training went well from what I saw and those that filtered through my station actively participated. I hope everyone got something out of it," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Carlos Navarro, also assigned to MAGTAF. "We have roughly ten fully trained staff, so those going ashore during this mission can help us out by remembering and doing what we taught them."

Sailors said they learned something new during the three-hour evolution.

"Although the training was a refresher, and a good one at that, I also learned a few new ways of treatment," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Helen Caffery, ship's secretary.

"It was good," said Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Ayelazono of the Ghanian navy, a member of the embarked Africa Partnership Station (APS) West staff. "I had training like this before, but it was a nice refresher. If we get to go into Haiti to assist, there is much here that I believe we'll help me."

Gunston Hall was scheduled to deploy to Africa to support APS when it got the word to be part of Operation Unified Response, providing support to Haitian earthquake victims. Ayelazono said this training would also benefit him when the ship continues with its APS mission.

"As part of the APS mission, it can only improve proficiency for us, and clarify any doubt we may have in this area," said Ayelazono.

Gunston Hall, a Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship, is conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti. The ship recently completed a mid-life modernization availability. The work included major upgrades to the ship's control system, local area network and machinery control system, propulsion systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as replacement of the ship's boilers and evaporators with an all-electric services system.

APS West is an international initiative developed by Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.

To learn more about Africa Partnership Station and its mission, visit

For more news from Africa Partnership Station, visit

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dennis Minydzak, from Pittsburgh, demonstrates on Ensign Whitney Krese the proper method for applying a sling during basic life-saving and preventive medicine training aboard the amphibious
100117-N-7948C-023 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Jan. 17, 2010) Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Dennis Minydzak, from Pittsburgh, demonstrates on Ensign Whitney Krese the proper method for applying a sling during basic life-saving and preventive medicine training aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44). Gunston Hall was diverted from a scheduled deployment to Africa to assist in Operation Unified Response, the relief efforts following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martin Cuaron/Released)
January 18, 2010
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