SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - Medical professionals embarked aboard the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) conducted a rewarding subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) with Cambodian Navy service members at Ream Naval Training Center as part of Pacific Partnership 2010’s visit to Sihanoukville..

For three days, military and non-governmental organization (NGO) volunteers teamed with more than 60 Cambodian Naval paramedic students to discuss ideas, medical practices, and to strengthen the partnership between the U.S. and Cambodian navies. Upon completion of the SMEE, student participants received a certificate recognizing their newly acquired skills.

“The purpose of the SMEE was to share information and build a partnership with our host nation,” said Cmdr. Laurie Gentene, Mercy Directorate for Administration Staff, Education, and Training. “We collaborated on training techniques to familiarize the students with basic paramedic skills. We also conducted ‘skills stations’ for hands-on training.”

Training consisted of Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), care for the caregiver, basic concepts in trauma care, primary and secondary assessment, airway management, extremity injuries, shock and hemorrhage, chest trauma, and abdominal trauma.

Of all the skills to be familiar with, Gentene said basic life support was the most important subject.

“Basic life support was the most critical aspect of our training as it saves lives,” said Gentene. “The student paramedics who received training will be responsible for the health care of naval personnel and their families, so life-saving skills shared during the SMEE can be used in all areas.”

NGO and partner nation volunteers were on hand, working with U.S. servicemembers to instruct SMEE participants and share their knowledge.

“Sharing knowledge, adapting and determining how to improve medical practices really appealed to me when presented with the opportunity to participate in this SMEE,” said Margaret Holt, a Project HOPE volunteer registered nurse. “Working together with Mercy servicemembers, partner, and host nations is a wonderful experience.”

For 12 days servicemembers from Mercy, Sailors and embarked medical personnel from JDS Kunisaki (LST 4003), joined with partner nations, non-governmental organizations, and other U.S. government organizations to take part in medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering humanitarian and civic action programs in the provinces of Kampong Cham, Kampong Spue, Kampot, Kandal, Ratanakiri, Sihanouk, and Takeo.

Pacific Partnership 2010 enabled host and partner nations to learn more than just the best medical practices during SMEEs.

“I was amazed at the questions they asked and their knowledge base. They were so appreciative and asked us to come back anytime,” said Gentene. “We were all moved by their eagerness to learn, hospitality, and graciousness.”