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Posted By: Tom Stanton on May 5, 2009

Labels: Dominican Republic , Humanitarian Aid, Volunteers

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

We finished the mission in the Dominican Republic on Friday. Everyone worked incredibly hard to the very end. On the last day alone, there were almost 1,400 patient encounters. While it’s not about the numbers, everyone can be proud of the fact that we saw more patients and taught more students -- in less time -- than in Haiti. The unofficial totals for the country were:

  • More than 11,000 patients triaged – including a case of leprosy in early stages
  • 206 surgeries in 7 operating days – 30 per day in the 5 OR’s
  • 1917 dental encounters
  • 4780 students taught in 213 sessions

On Saturday night, Captain Ware sang the praises of all the educators…students had lined up all week for the sessions like it was a Hannah Montana concert (whoever she is)…and one of our own, Project HOPE volunteer Michele Okamoto, was honored as the ship’s Person of the Day.

On Sunday morning, we were visited by the Robert Peary – a refueling ship. The Navy term for refueling at sea is UNREP, or underway replenishment, and it’s simply an amazing thing to witness two huge vessels going side by side in perfect sync for more than two hours. The Comfort took on 500,000 gallons of fuel and the Witch Doctors executed a flawless VERTREP, moving 182 pallets of supplies from the Peary’s flight deck to ours. The ship’s Master, Captain Finger, said he’s done these for 30 years and hasn’t seen a better one.

On Monday, we steamed for Antigua. Most of the crew got the day off, sleeping in and enjoying brunch. In the afternoon, there was a Steel Beach Picnic on the flight deck that was a lot of fun. The highlight was the rain-shortened AF Band concert. The horns were tight and Keisha, the singer, should be on American Idol. She is that good!

Well, we “dropped hook” in St. John’s Harbour in beautiful Antigua about an hour ago, and we just went to flight quarters. The first “serial call aways” have begun, summoning the crew members who are moving our stuff to the sites on shore, and the first helo is taking off as I type. The table and walls are shaking, so I’ll sign off for now!

 --Tom

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