Friday, June 12, 2009

Tumaco, Colombia

Tumaco Colombia is a small, sea-side town on the South-Western edge of Colombia. As in so many of the places we've visited, the need is great. Children, old people, and many in between stand in line for hours waiting to be seen.

As is usually the case, LCDR Hobbs (Current Operations for our Mission Commander) and I went ashore together to gain some situational awareness of what is happening at both our Medical/Dental sites and at other activities around town. In this picture, it's me, our Colombian Army guard, Danielle Wooten (our Director for Administration) and Big Al Hobbs.

This country is different than all of our previous stops because we have a contingent of our crew who are Remaining Over Night (RON)on shore instead of returning to the ship each evening. Because we're anchored out, this gives them the opportunity of getting a head start on the day and reduces the number of people we need to transport ashore each day. Our first stop of the day was to the hotel that is serving as our RON site. It is a decent hotel with Air Conditioned rooms, a satisfactory restaurant, and a pool. (I'm not sure I would swim in the pool, but it's there for the brave of heart!) Of course, by the time our people get there after working in the sweltering heat all day, I'm not sure they're much in the mood to enjoy the few amenities offered, well, maybe the A/C!

Our next stop was our engineering site. This site is the most ambitious project undertaken by our Seabeas. In less than two weeks, they are building four structures: Three separate classroom buildings, and a separate kitchen facility! We were there on day four of the project, and as you can see from the pictures, they are making some pretty awesome progress!


Next we went to the Medical site. We are referring to this site as our "Super Site" because it really is a perfect location for this mission! It consists of a large, walled school complex with multiple buildings, plenty of space, and a relatively great place to separate patients, allow them to wait in chairs, under tents, and manage their flow effectively throughout the site.

Following our visit to the Medical site, we were taken to the Colombian Marine Base where we caught a Colombian Marine boat back to the ship. As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed the boat shown in this picture. This is some of the latest in Drug Running technology. These semi-submersible boats ride mostly under water, with less than two feet extending above the surface. They can carry eight TONS of cocaine! Well, this one won't any more!

On the way home, we took a Colombian Marine boat that has been supporting our efforts to move people back and forth. It was a pretty quick ride out to the ship, but it was a little bumpy! When we arrived at the COMFORT, we had a bit of a challenge getting back aboard. First we tried from the Port side, but the Pacific swell was pretty intense and only one person from our boat was able to make the leap of faith from the Colombian boat to one of our lifeboats that was lowered to the water. So after banging together a bit and subsequently parting the stern line from the Colombian boat, we went to the other side of the ship and eventually made it work!

Finally tonight, we've been employing some technology of our own. This is a picture of our VTC system that we have been using to share some of the really cool stuff we've been doing on this trip with Residents and Medical Staff at facilities ashore. This is an abdominal hysterectomy that was done to remove a uterus with huge fibroid tumors. Medical facilities from around the country were able to connect through a bridge and watch this surgery and speak to our surgeons real-time in the OR during the case. Pretty cool, huh!?


  1. Hi, I really enjoy your blog. Keep on keeping on... Miss you.. debbie

  2. Deployments are crazy aren't they. While you do what you do I have a world of things happening in my life too. But it is never as good as when we are together. Gods speed.

  3. Man, that VTC system is awesome! You need to start a subscription service; that looks better than the Discovery Health Channel.

    (from a non-medical type)