ADF medics return to Philippines
17 July 2014
Australian Defence Force (ADF) medics have returned to the Philippines as part of an annual United States-sponsored humanitarian and civic assistance exercise that will help some of the many thousands of people adversely affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
The ADF personnel have joined with 100 US and Japanese military doctors, dentists and nurses under the auspices of “Pacific Partnership 14” (PP14) to help the people of Tacloban city with free health clinics and medical care.
Lieutenant-Colonel John Cronin said nine Australian medical and support staff are working hard to complement the success achieved by the ADF when it conducted Operation PHILIPPINES ASSIST in November 2013.
“The ADF’s support to last year’s relief and recovery efforts is something we can all be proud of because it featured complex air, sea and land operations that helped the Philippines respond to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan,” he said.
The ADF personnel assigned to PP14 are proud to be providing follow-up assistance, but none more than Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Sean Boller, from Canberra, who was part of the Australian Medical Assistance Team which spearheaded PHILIPPINES ASSIST only three days after the typhoon.
“It is great to be back in the same area only eight months after Typhoon Haiyan because I can put it all into perspective,” he said.
“I still have vivid memories of the disaster relief operation because we flew in a RAAF C-130 Hercules aircraft into Tacloban city, which was completely destroyed by winds in excess of 315-kmph.”
Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez thanked the PP14 senior leadership, including Lieutenant-Colonel Cronin, at the opening ceremony on 5 July.
“The international response to Typhoon Haiyan was so successful because of the planning and conduct of the Pacific Partnership series of disaster relief exercises over the past nine-years,” he said.
Lieutenant-Colonel Cronin said the annual series of exercises was conceived as a way to improve the interoperability of the region’s military forces, governments, and humanitarian organisations during disaster relief operations.
“Op PHILIPPINES ASSIST demonstrated that it is absolutely critical that the ADF and our regional partners stand ready to assist when natural disasters occur,” he said.
This year, PP14 has delivered assistance including medical, dental, veterinary and engineering aid to Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
The mission concludes in the Philippines on 19 July, when the ADF team will embark in a Japan Maritime Self Defence Ship, the JS Kunisaki, for the voyage to Okinawa, before flying home.