Royal Australian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alison Zilko instructs local students at the College of Micronesia-Federated States of Micronesia, June 29. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. James Gulliver)

KOLONIA, Pohnpei - A Pohnpei nurse midwife credits the “Helping Babies Breathe” course taught during Pacific Partnership with helping her save a baby’s life June 29, just hours after attending the two-day event.

Bernolina Hedson was a student in the course taught by Royal Australian Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alison Zilko and U.S. Navy Lt. Jenna DiMaggio June 29-30. Only nine hours after the completion of her first day of training, Hedson used her newly obtained knowledge to successfully resuscitate a newborn.

While delivering a baby, Hedson was surprised to find an undiagnosed twin pregnancy, with the other fetus still in utero and breech. Forty-five minutes later she delivered the second baby, who had a low heart beat and no spontaneous breathing. Hedson remembered the training from earlier that day and was able to successfully resuscitate the child within seven minutes, just as the Helping Babies Breathe algorithm dictates.

“The first thing that popped into my mind after delivering the baby was to use the knowledge and skills learned earlier in the day for routine care of the newborn,” said Hedson.

According to Hedson, the baby was spontaneously breathing after seven minutes and now is expected to make a full recovery and join his brother at their mother’s side.

Helping Babies Breathe is designed to teach those who attend deliveries in austere environments to help babies breathe in the first crucial minutes of their lives.

This is the first time that the Helping Babies Breathe has been included as part of Pacific Partnership and is being taught by U.S. and partner nation military personnel. On July 1-2, students trained other medical providers in the same course, as Helping Babies Breathe is also a train-the-trainer course.

“The course is designed to not only teach providers the principles of resuscitation, but also trains them to teach others the same material,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ashley Maranich, the master trainer for the course. “This allows the principles to be propagated throughout the resource-limited areas where it is intended to be used.”

Hedson attested firsthand that Helping Babies Breathe can help save lives. She also vowed to continue to teach the course throughout the Federated States of Micronesia and other Pacific island countries.

Now in its tenth iteration, Pacific Partnership is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions have provided medical care to approximately 270,000 patients and veterinary services to more than 38,000 animals. Additionally, Pacific Partnership has provided critical infrastructure developments to host nations through the completion of more than 180 engineering projects.