American University of Antigua (AUA) continues its commitment to social responsibility by teaming with the medical staff of the USNS Comfort, whose primary mission is to “provide a mobile, flexible, and rapidly responsive afloat medical capability for acute medical and surgical care in support of amphibious task forces, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force elements, forward deployed Navy elements of the fleet and fleet activities located in areas where hostilities may be imminent.” However, the visit to the twin-island of Antigua and Barbuda is the Comfort’s third stop as part of its Continuing Promise 2009 tour, a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission in Latin America and the Caribbean region.

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived May 5 in the port of St. Johns, Antigua and will be docked there until May 17. The visit’s primary mission is to provide Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training to the Antiguan medical staff of the newly opened Mount Saint John Medical Centre. In addition, AUA is providing training mannequins and training rooms at AUA’s West Campus for the training session. ACLS is a course administered to health care providers who participate in patient resuscitation. The course consists of simulated clinical scenarios that involve active, hands-on participation through learning stations where the necessary skills for dealing with cardiopulmonary emergencies are further developed. The participants work in teams and become proficient in the concepts of basic life support care: recognizing and initiating early management of peri-arrest conditions, managing cardiac arrest, identifying and treating ischemic chest pain and acute coronary syndromes, recognizing other life-threatening clinical situations (such as stroke) and providing initial care, ACLS algorithms, and effective resuscitation team dynamics.

“For the entire mission, our hope is to build bridges and relationships with the health care providers and emergency response teams in every country we go to. So that we already know how to work together and how each place works, so in case there is a hurricane or a disaster, we will have these partnerships in place,” said USNS LCDR Training Officer Amy Drayton. She added that their work in Antigua is an important subject matter exchange, helping people to re-certify in required classes such as basic life support, and advanced cardiac life support. “What I really like about what we are doing here is that it’s helping to build a bridge between the new hospital and the new facility at AUA. It is important for the community here that the medical schools and the hospitals to have a good connection and a working relationship,” said Dayton.

Dr. Anthony Parkes, Director of the AUA Emergency Medicine Training Center, remarked “It has been a great pleasure, over the last few days, to be of assistance to the medical staff of the USNS Comfort in their philanthropic program of Life Support instruction to the people of Antigua. Not only have they supplied their services to the professional staff of St John’s Medical Centre but the invitation has been open to members of the public and government employees. When the ship leaves the island, it will leave it a safer place for us all.” Dr. Parkes went on to say that “we at the AUA Emergency Medical Training Center fully intend to continue this philanthropic program after the USNS Comfort has embarked, by offering the American Heart Association’s Basic life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support qualifications to all Antiguan residents who wish to contribute to the health and safety of the island.”