The Sunday Leader

Exercise Pacific Angel

By Camelia Nathaniel

With the aim of enhancing disaster response in Sri Lanka and allowing more effective US assistance in the event of a disaster, the Sri Lanka Air Force in conjunction with the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and the United States Pacific Air Force co-hosted a Health Services Outreach (HSO) and Engineering Civil Programme (ENCAP) code named ‘Exercise Pacific Angel’ from 5th to 10th August, 2013 in the Northern Peninsula.

The medical program focuses on the provision of Primary Health Care, Physical Therapy, Optometry and Dentistry for civilians and conducting a Subject Matter Medical Exchange Program (SMEE) for Aero Medical Evacuation at the SLAF Base in Katunayake.

The medical units were held at the Thikkam Cultural hall in Alvain North and at the Saivapragasa Vidyalayam in Achchelu, while renovations and other construction work was carried out at the Kuddiyapulam mixed school and Punnalaikkadduwan primary school.

The US Pacific Air Forces comprised professionals from USA, Australia, Bangladesh and Maldivian Armed Forces.

The Sri Lankan Medical contingent comprised a 14 member crew including two Doctors and three consultants from the Ministry of Health Services, an eight member crew including one doctor from the Sri Lanka Army, an eight member crew including one doctor from the Sri Lanka Navy, a fifteen member crew including three doctors from the Sri Lanka Air Force, Red Cross members and University students.

The renovation programmes mainly focus on the renovation of school buildings and uplifting the infrastructure facilities of underprivileged schools which were selected on a priority basis.
The renovation programme commenced at three renovation sites vis-à-vis Punnalaikkadduwan Primary School (site one), Kuddiyapulam Mixed School (site two) and Achchelu Saivapragasa Vidyalayam (site three) in the Jaffna Peninsula on August 4, and will continue until August 11, 2013.

The works contingent which comprises 17 works engineers from the US Pacific Air Forces, a ten member crew including one works engineer from the Sri Lanka Air Force, a ten member crew including one works engineer from the Sri Lanka Navy and an eight member crew including one works engineer from the Sri Lanka Army are engaged with masonry, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and beautification of the surroundings of those schools.

This exercise will provide a forum for military engineers and technicians to explore challenges, opportunities and diverse experiences related to modern engineering practices, expand knowledge, share expertise and advance skills through mutual discussion apart from the primary objective of the exercise which is to enhance infrastructure facilities and livelihood development of people especially in the post war scenario.

Speaking to The Sunday Leader Kandamani Amma (65) said that she has been having problems with her eyes but since she has to go to Jaffna hospital to consult an optometrist she had not done so due to the distance and hassle of travelling. “I am very happy that such a clinic was organised in our area which made it so much easier for us to obtain medical care. Furthermore, as I am suffering from cataract the lens alone would cost me Rs 13,000 which I would not have been able to afford if not for this clinic,” she said.

Similarly Sivamanohari Kannan who was visiting the clinic to have her dental requirements taken care of said that it was a great help as otherwise she would not have been able to afford it.
There were other patients who had come to the clinic for numerous other ailments including asthma, wheezing and other physical ailments. Group Captain Janaka Amerasinghe is the Overall Exercise Commander and Group Captain L.R. Jayaweera acted as the Coordinator of the Medical Programme, Wing Commander R.A.D.T.M. Weerarathne acted as the Air Coordinator and Squadron Leader L.J.W. Perera was the Main Coordinator of the Renovation Programme from the Sri Lanka Military.

From the United States Pacific Air Force Lieutenant Cornel Douglas Woodard of the US Air Force is the Mission Commander where he was assisted by Wing Commander Collette Richards from the Royal Australian Air Force as Head of the Medical Team and Master Sergeant Mathew Fleming of the US Air Force acted as the Coordinator of Renovation Team.


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