US 7th Fleet, USNH Yokosuka Strengthen International Relationships

US 7th Fleet, USNH Yokosuka Strengthen International Relationships

U.S. 7th Fleet and U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka kicked off its Operational Medical Symposium at the Admiral Arleigh A. Burke Officer’s Club aboard Fleet Activities Yokosuka Jan. 28.

Military officials from several nations attend the two-day symposium including representatives from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Australia as well as the U.S.

The conference provided a venue that allowed U.S. military medical professionals and their partner nation counterparts an opportunity to strengthen bonds between the countries through an open exchange of knowledge.

“It is really important to establish what kind of medical capabilities each country has,” said Command Surgeon, U.S. Pacific Command, Rear Adm. Raquel Bono. “It helps us understand what everyone could bring to the table in the event we needed to work together to respond to a natural disaster or provide humanitarian assistance,” she said.

“We never know in a mass casualty situation who is going to be the most impacted,” said USNH Yokosuka Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Turner. “It may be our base which is most impacted so we would need support from the local Japanese community. This symposium allowed us to build ties, so we can help each other during a disaster,” he said.

Strengthening relationships was just one of the objectives of the symposium. It also created the opportunity for members of the six nations to learn from one and other through a series of lectures.

Guest speakers covered a variety of topics ranging from the opportunities and challenges of being a shipboard dentist to trauma surgery experiences in Afghanistan.

“I was very interested in the trauma care [in Afghanistan] presentation,” said Vice President of Japan Self Defense Force Central Hospital Vice Adm. Yozo Uriuda. “Fortunately we have not fought a war in a long time, so we don’t have much experience in this type of medical treatment, so this presentation was very helpful,” he said.

The symposium played a vital role in keeping the lanes of communication open between countries which many guest would like to see continue in the future.

“I would strongly advocate for this kind of event to continue on a regular basis,” said Bono. “I think the basis of our cooperation is not only understanding at what each country has the capability to do but also being able to say that you know somebody. The greatest benefit of this event is we now have a small network that can grow. We can now put a face to a name which makes it easier to pick up the phone and ask for assistance if the need arises,” she said.

USNH Yokosuka is the largest U.S. military treatment facility on mainland Japan caring for approximately 43,000 eligible beneficiaries.

Naval Today Staff, January 30, 2013; Image: US Navy