North Dakota Guard helps outfit national ambulance service in Ghana

Photo By: North Dakota National Guard

Photo By: North Dakota National Guard

ACCRA, Ghana — The North Dakota National Guard, through its State Partnership Program (SPP), along with U.S. Africa Command last week assisted with the delivery of more than $7,300 in medical supplies to the Ghanaian National Ambulance Service.

The excess supplies were procured through Operation United Assistance, a U.S. Department of Defense response mechanism designed to provide the coordination of logistics, training and engineering support to the U.S. Agency for International Development in West Africa to help contain the spread of Ebola virus.

The North Dakota National Guard, as well as the North Dakota Department of Health, recently have furthered the state’s partnership with Ghana by assisting the West African nation with strengthening its emergency management services. These efforts began in 2010 when North Dakota’s state agencies supported missions to assess and identify the capabilities of the Ghanaian National Ambulance Service.

“The National Ambulance Service is one of North Dakota’s best examples of bilateral efforts and shared experiences in Ghana,” said Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general. “One of our goals is to continue to expand our partnership with Ghana through additional participation and involvement from civilian agencies and organizations throughout the state of North Dakota.”

The Ghanaian National Ambulance Service was formed in 2004, with seven ambulance stations and fewer than 60 staff members. Today, there are 130 stations in 10 regions across Ghana, with nearly 1,700 personnel.

“The outstanding partnership between the North Dakota National Guard, the North Dakota Department of Health and the National Ambulance Service of Ghana allowed us the perfect avenue to donate the extra medical supplies,” said Maj. Mark McEvers, bilateral affairs officer for the North Dakota National Guard, who supports SPP efforts while residing in Ghana. “The National Ambulance Service is always very grateful for this enduring partnership and any assets we can provide.”

To bolster Ghana’s emergency management services efforts, North Dakota’s state agency representatives have led a handful of training courses over the years during visits to Africa. Most recently, in January, a five-person SPP team, which included members of the North Dakota National Guard and North Dakota Department of Health, led conversations over a two-week period with Ghanaian emergency medical technician (EMT) station managers, administrators and dispatchers about a range of topics, including ambulance operations, professional licensure, leadership principals, infection control, public relations and protocol.

Additionally, North Dakota recently was able to facilitate advanced paramedic training in Fargo for a visiting Ghanaian EMT through Sanford Health’s EMS Education department. The student, who is staying with a host family during the paramedic course, will return to Ghana with the training and provide advanced life support education to his counterparts upon his return. The initiative was developed through the North Dakota Department of Health with support from Sanford Health.

Dr. Jeffery Sather, North Dakota Department of Health medical director for emergency medical services, was one of the SPP team members who traveled to Ghana in January. He said the Ghanaian National Ambulance Service and the country’s emergency management services continue to make strides, though there is still room for growth, which can be implemented over time with help from SPP representatives.

“There are things that we take for granted in the U.S. that aren’t the norm in other countries,” he said. “As we train the EMTs and ambulance service, we must be aware that they could progress very quickly and outpace the hospitals in the area. Moving forward, that might be an area the National Guard and the partnership program can look at — the integration of the emergency care system.”

Later this year, North Dakota’s SPP is planning three additional visits to further work with Ghana’s emergency management and emergency medical services personnel. Soldiers and Airmen from the North Dakota National Guard also continue to build relationships and share expertise with their counterparts in the Ghanaian Armed Forces through partnership exchanges. The cross-training runs across a spectrum of military specialties and fields, including combat medical training, combat engineering, public affairs, chaplain services, disaster response, military police procedures, family programs and Air Force maintenance and operations.

The SPP between North Dakota and Ghana began in 2004. The purpose of the program is to foster mutual interests and establish habitual long-term relationships across all levels of society. The program as a whole encourages the development of economic, political and military ties between the states and partner nations. Over the last ten years, the North Dakota’s and Ghana’s partnership has grown from military-to-military engagements and missions with members and units of the North Dakota National Guard to now including civilian-to-civilian and business-to-business partnerships.

In February 2014, North Dakota broadened its participation in the SPP by entering into new partnerships with the West African countries Republic of Benin and the Togolese Republic. North Dakota’s partnerships with Ghana, Benin and Togo represent the formalization of a regional SPP relationship, which is a cost-effective approach to strengthening the cooperation, communication and interoperability of neighboring countries in a manner that benefits U.S. national interests.

Categories: Africa, Community News

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