Ramstein medics provide humanitarian care in Cyprus

Senior Airman Brian Ferguson
U.S. Central Command Air Forces, Public Affairs

Securing the health of the thousands of U.S. citizens leaving Lebanon has been placed in the hands of a small group of medical personnel from the 435th Medical Group at Ramstein.

“Our people love helping,” said Capt. Chris Kurinec, who is serving as the operations officer. “We are a joint service medical component consisting of Air Force and Navy medical personnel. We have meshed perfectly.”

***image1***Nine teams make up the medical unit. The majority of the teams consist of one doctor, one nurse and one technician or corpsman.

“We came here expecting to operate out of one location,” said Captain Kurinec. “Instead, we are operating out of five locations, plus (support) helicopter and ship missions to Beirut, Lebanon.”

They are operating out of the Cyprus fairgrounds, a Cyprus port, two airports and an operations center.

American citizens are transported into the port or one of the airports in Cyprus. They are then bused to the fairgrounds were they are made as comfortable as possible as they wait for transportation back to the United States. In most cases, citizens will spend no more than 24 hours on the ground in Cyprus.

Operating 24 hours a day, the medical members see more than 200 patients a day at their locations.

“I expected to see a lot of patients for things like dehydration and stress,” said Capt. Larita Abel, a pediatric nurse. “We are seeing those things, but we are also seeing things like headaches, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

“We are also seeing a lot of pediatric patients – just kids being kids,” Captain Abel said.

The Air Force medical component from the 435th MDG is a deployable, quick response medical unit consisting of doctors, nurses, public health, logistics and communications, among others.

Captain Abel said that she loves what she is doing here. The people seem very grateful, although a little frustrated considering the situation.

“Sometimes we are there just to let them vent,” said the captain, who had plans to attend a family reunion. “I am missing it, but I would not have it any other way. This is more important.”