PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) hosted a medical subject matter expert exchange as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014 while the ship is moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam July 7.
Several U.S. Navy medical officers, along with Chinese People's Liberation Army-Navy [PLA(N)] military medical officials, gave presentations on topics including Human Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR), preventive medicine, environmental health as well as lectures and a demonstration covering dive medicine and hyperbaric chamber use. Attendees included military medical personnel from Australia, Canada, China, the Philippines, Singapore and both Army and Navy officials from the United States.
"With HA/DR, it's important to coordinate and cooperate with other nations in an effort to be prepared for any possible future events," said Lt. Benda L. White, preventive medicine department head aboard Mercy who also helped facilitate the lectures and presentations throughout the day.
Along with the various lectures, the afternoon provided a trip to Mobile Diving Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, where the dive team demonstrated the capabilities of one of the Navy's hyperbaric chambers. The importance of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in medicine was highlighted earlier in the day and throughout the group's time at MDSU 1.
"The exchange allows us to view both different and sometimes broader areas of research being conducted by other nations," said Lt. Michael Zakaroff, the medical dive officer at MDSU-1 and subject matter expert presenter.
This year's RIMPAC marks the first time in the exercises history that hospital ships have participated. PLA(N) hospital ship Ark Peace (T-AH 866) and Mercy are scheduled to continue holding medical subject matter expert exchanges while in Pearl Harbor as well as simulated disaster relief operation at sea.
"It's a great development to have medicine playing such a large role in RIMPAC," said Zakaroff. "Especially in cases of HA/DR, effective medical response is vital."
Twenty-two nations, 49 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 26 to Aug. 1, in and around the Hawaiian Islands.