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Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief

Humanitarian assistance and disaster response are core DoD capabilities, but they are always conducted in a supporting role to assist other U.S. Government agencies. DoD has the assets and experience to deploy necessary relief personnel and resources to all corners of the globe at a moment’s notice—there is no actor better prepared to respond in times of crisis. 

We have seen the positive impact of DoD’s efforts on the broader U.S. Government response to international disasters in a number of cases: 

  • In Operation Tomodochi, after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011—U.S. forces were instrumental in delivering food, water, blankets, clothing, and medical supplies to support Japanese civilian and military partners.
  • During Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Service Members were on the ground working with the Philippine military to provide essential medical treatment and supplies.
  • During the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, Service Members were involved in constructing treatment centers and providing logistical support to stem the spread of infection.
  • In the aftermath of the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake, U.S. military personnel were instrumental in supporting relief efforts with transportation and medical treatment, and where previous training exercises with the Nepalese military significant improved their capacity to respond to the crisis. 

These engagements have provided invaluable hands-on experience for service members that helps improve our future contributions to disaster relief efforts. They demonstrate time and again the value of our partnership-building activities, as partner nations have improved their disaster response capabilities after joining U.S. military in training exercises.

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USAISR burn flight team deploys to Guatemala

Article
7/5/2018
Army Capt. Argelia Felix-Camacho, a critical care nurse at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center and member of the USAISR Burn Center Burn Flight Team comforts a patient in Guatemala before a flight to the Shriner's Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Corenthia Fennell)

The patients -- all children needing specialized treatment -- and the teamwork between the Army and Air Force ensured the patients' safe transport from Guatemala to the U.S.

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U.S. Navy, JMSDF participate in bilateral training exercise

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6/21/2018
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Sailors and U.S. Naval Hospital (USNH) Yokosuka personnel transport a simulated patient during a mass casualty drill in conjunction with hospital ship USNS Mercy and JMSDF personnel. The drill was conducted in order to prepare medical staff for a mass casualty scenario involving a maritime incident at sea. USNH Yokosuka is the largest U.S. military treatment facility on mainland Japan caring for approximately 43,000 eligible beneficiaries. (U.S. Navy photo by Tim Jensen)

The simulated disaster for the training exercise included a Japanese vessel colliding with a U.S. vessel

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U.S. Air Force airlifts Guatemalan children injured by volcano

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6/8/2018
Members of the U.S. Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Team (Pedicatics) assist Guatemalan medical personnel with loading injured patients on board a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III. The aircrew from the 172nd Airlift Wing, transported six children from Guatemala to receive medical treatment in the United States for burns and other injuries sustained during the June 3, 2018 Fuego Volcano eruption. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Edward Staton)

The Air Force flew the children and their guardians to receive treatment in Galveston, Texas

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Air Force medical team supports exercise in Panama

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5/29/2018
Air Force Master Sgt. Emeriles Curry, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron dental hygienist, provides dental care to a local man in the Coclé Province of Panama. To date, in 2-weeks’ worth of Medical Readiness Training Exercises, the teams working in conjunction with the Panamanian Ministry of Health, have seen nearly 4,700 patients. The medical team is participating in Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise focused on medical, civil engineer and support service personnel’s ability to prepare, deploy, operate, and redeploy outside the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

The medical team has been working closely with Panamanian dentists

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USNS Mercy delivers medical supplies to Ulithi Atoll

Article
3/21/2018
Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy transits the waters near the Ulithi Atoll while en route to the Mercy’s first mission stop of Pacific Partnership 2018. PP18’s mission is to work collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific Region. Pacific Partnership, now in its 13th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kelsey L. Adams)

This is the first official engagement of Pacific Partnership 2018, where the Mercy will be sailing near Ulithi Atoll and using helicopters to deliver medical supplies

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USNS Mercy deploys in support of Pacific Partnership 2018

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3/1/2018
The hospital ship USNS Mercy departs Naval Base San Diego in support of Pacific Partnership 2018, Feb. 23, 2018. Pacific Partnership, now in its 13th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelsey Adams)

Medical, dental, civil engineering and veterinary teams will partner with each host nation

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Airman builds medical relationships in Vietnam

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12/29/2017
Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Cody Butler, a physical therapist and commander of the 78th Medical Group Clinical Medicine Flight, poses with other members of his engagement team in Tam Ky, Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, Nov. 30, 2017. Butler was in Vietnam as part of a team seeing patients and building relationships with local physicians during the humanitarian assistance engagement Operation Pacific Angel Vietnam 2017. (Air Force photo by Jonathan Bell)

Operation Pacific Angel ensures the militaries in the Pacific region are able to work together should a humanitarian assistance need arise

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2017 Year in Review: A look at inspiring individuals who help shape the MHS

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12/20/2017
Staff Sgt. Matthew Crabtree, a medic with the 285th Medical Company (Area Support) and a registered nurse, performs a medical assessment on an infant less than one month old Oct. 27, 2017, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. Military medical personnel were critical to disaster response related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. (Ohio National Guard photo by Sgt. Joanna Bradshaw)

MHS highlights the contributions of veterans, advocates, providers

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Hurricane brings renewed gratitude to health care NCO

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12/15/2017
After working together in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Army Master Sgt. Dean Dawson meets again with brother-in-law and chef Albert Rodriguez during the Invincible Spirit Festival at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio. (Courtesy photo)

With Vegas plan busted, Texan turned to volunteering

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Coast Guard medical teams help first responders in hurricane-ravaged areas

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12/14/2017
A Coast Guard medical team oversees a temporary tent city set up in Key West, Florida, to shelter service members assisting with hurricane recovery efforts. Pictured left to right: Cmdr. Rob Kuhl, Capt. Ezequias Sanchez-Olmo, HS3 Christopher Roche, HS2 Lauren Coghill, HS2 Ivan Castro, and Cmdr. Justin Eubanks. (U.S. Coast Guard)

Helping those who helped others after Irma and Maria

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Air Force surgeons help treat Las Vegas shooting victims

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10/11/2017
Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Compton (left) and Air Force Maj. Chales Chesnut, 99th Medical Group general surgeons, pose for a portrait in the Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The surgeons were two members of the team that took in trauma patients at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada during the Las Vegas shooting Oct. 1, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum)

Air Force and civilian surgeons worked hand-in-hand through the night to treat patients

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Navy deploys USNS Comfort to support Puerto Rico disaster relief

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10/2/2017
Approximately 750 doctors, nurses, corpsmen and support personnel from across the Navy embarked aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort in support of the U.S. military response to the hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. (U.S. Navy file photo)

USNS Comfort deploys more than 750 Sailors to support this specific mission as defined by the Department of Defense

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Air Force launches aerial spray mission against mosquitoes

Article
9/25/2017
Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Ken Hesser, a crew chief with the 910th Maintenance Group, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, marshals a C-130H Hercules aircraft as the aircrew taxis the plane for takeoff on the flightline of the Kelly Field Annex. Hesser is among more than 90 Reserve Citizen Airmen supporting the 910th’s mosquito control aerial spray operations over areas of eastern Texas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The 910th Airlift Wing operates the Department of Defense’s only aerial spray capability to control pest insect populations, eliminate undesired and invasive vegetation and disperse oil spills in large bodies of water. Due to large amounts of standing, polluted water, the numbers of pest insects are increasing significantly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.)

The Air Force Reserve’s 910th Airlift Wing continues aerial spray mosquito control application in areas of eastern Texas to assist Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts

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Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

Fact Sheet
8/30/2017

This information paper provides immunization recommendations and resources for Department of Defense (DoD) personnel supporting disaster response operations, both in CONUS and OCONUS.

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DoD Instruction 6010.22: National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)

Policy

This instruction establishes policy for DoD participation in the NDMS, a joint federal, State, and local mutual aid response system, to provide a coordinated medical response, patient movement, and definitive patient care during a military health emergency, U.S. national emergency, or U.S. domestic disaster.

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