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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Combined Task Force Ensures Recovery for Burn Victim

By Army Capt. Jerord E. Wilson
Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa

RIBTA, Djibouti, April 2, 2007 — A 6-year-old Djiboutian girl is doing well after being treated by members of the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa for burns to her hands.

The girl was initially treated March 8, by members of the North Carolina-based 1132nd Engineer Detachment (Well Drillers) attached to the task force. Army Staff Sgt. William Brown, the team medic, was among the first to assess and treat her. According to Brown, the severity of the burn and the appearance of infection were of primary concern.

“My initial concern was the size of her arm and the severity of the burns to her entire arm. She felt no pain, and it looked severely infected,” said Brown.

The North Carolina Guard members promised Ribta villagers they would return with a doctor to check on the girl’s progress. About a week later, they brought Navy Lt. Cmdr. Samantha Grillo, an orthopedic surgeon from the task force’s Expeditionary Medical Force to check on their patient.

Grillo was happy with what she saw. “Because the well-drillers were able to provide the initial cleaning, bandaging, and transport to the hospital in Obock, Djibouti, for antibiotics, the girl’s injuries did not progress to anything that was a life- or limb-threatening injury.”

“She looks like a happy, healthy little girl, quite different from the photos. I was happy to see that the condition of her hand was healing so well,” said Grillo. The surgeon conducted some hand-gripping tests for strength and gave some additional medications to ensure the healing process continues.

The mother of the little girl was overjoyed to see the level of care and speed of recovery to her daughter’s hand. The area on her left hand that had been burned is completely healed, with a slight difference in the pigmentation of the skin.

“Smiles and giggles were the show of the day, and to see the appreciation from the villagers made it all worth it,” said Sgt. 1st Class Danny Hunter.

Sgt. Phillip Lawing and Sgt. 1st Class William Brown were part of the team that initially provided first aid to the little girl’s hand, along with transporting her and her family to the hospital in Obock.

“It’s simply amazing the speed in which her hand healed,” Lawing said, “because it was swollen and stiff with infection the first time I saw her.”

The mission of CJTF-HOA is to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in order to prevail against extremism. The CJTF-HOA organization began operations at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, on May 13, 2003. It works with partner nations on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction and water development projects.

Photo: A 6-year-old girl moves her arm that is healing from a burn, to show its range of motion and motor skills in Ribta, Djibouti, March 19. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jerord E. Wilson.

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