U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dr. Trent Douglas (Col ’91) recently completed a humanitarian and civic assistance mission aboard the USNS Mercy hospital ship. The mission brought together an international group of physicians, medical students and other health care, security and administrative professionals from various military and civilian backgrounds to provide medical care in cooperation with host nations throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. In this letter, he describes his visit to Cambodia from June 14 to June 30, 2010.

The Sihanouk General Hospital during the visit from Mercy volunteers.

During our time in two weeks in Cambodia, we would perform 272 surgeries and thoroughly exhaust ourselves. Monkeys and cows were all over the place and we had the opportunity to treat the veterinarians for two monkey bites and one laceration that was delivered by the horns of a water buffalo that did not want to get vaccinated. Feral monkeys are nasty little creatures and bear close watching.

On the second to last day, we were involved in the initial treatment and medical evacuation of a U.S. Embassy employee who was severely injured in a car crash. The crash occurred about 30 miles north of Mercy’s location, and we serendipitously happened to have a medical team about 5 miles away seeing patients in a nearby village. Dispatched with a paucity of information and a Blackhawk Bag—an advanced first-aid kit—an Australian emergency room nurse and the Army medic were the first responders and they are directly responsible for the embassy worker’s survival.

The USNS Mercy accompanied by the JDS Kunisaki.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Dr. Trent Douglas is a plastic surgeon and lives with his family in San Diego, Calif.