United States Evacuates Children Injured in Fuego Eruption for Medical Care

REF# 2018-33

June 6, 2018

On the night of June 6th a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport lifted off from Aurora airport carrying six gravely injured children, including one pair of siblings.  The children, all of whom were seriously burned during the Fuego Volcano eruption on June 3, are on their way to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas, where they will receive care in the hospital’s world-renowned pediatric burn center.  The United States Government, the government of Guatemala, and Shriners International, a non-governmental organization that provides pediatric health care around the world, organized the flight.  As a result of this cooperation the injured children will receive care and rehabilitation from some of the world’s leading pediatric burn specialists.

Ambassador Luis Arreaga and President Jimmy Morales jointly authorized the flight.  Guatemala Shriners Club, the local branch of Shriners International, organized the children’s medical support in the United States.  The U.S. Military’s Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) dispatched the C-17 Globemaster aircraft from the 172 Airlift Wing in Jackson, Mississippi, along with an aeromedical evacuation crew from Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to help transport the children and their guardians.  Prior to their departure the children received care at Roosevelt Hospital, San Juan de Dios National Hospital and Escuintla hospital, where doctors from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health provided life-saving care to the young patients immediately following the eruption.  The Guatemalan Air Force provided logistical support for the mission.

The flight was one of a series of partnerships between the United States and Guatemala to respond to the Fuego Volcano eruption.  On June 5th Ambassador Arreaga issued a disaster declaration, authorizing an initial $300,000 in immediate assistance for those injured and displaced by the eruption.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is the lead U.S. agency for responding to natural disasters, will partner with the government of President Jimmy Morales and non-governmental organizations in Guatemala to deliver the assistance to the populations most affected by the disaster.   Three USAID disaster response experts have also flown into Guatemala, and are assisting the Guatemalan government and NGOs as they coordinate recovery efforts.

Commenting on U.S. assistance to Guatemala’s recovery efforts, Ambassador Arreaga said “true friends help during times of hardship.  The United States supports the efforts of the government of Jimmy Morales, as well as Guatemala’s robust non-governmental sector, in ensuring that the Fuego disaster’s victims receive the care and assistance they need.  We extend our condolences to the victims and their families, and will be by Guatemala’s side on the difficult road to recovery.”

Photos and video of the medical evacuation mission are available here.

Additional information on the equipment and organizations involved in the flight can be found here:

About the U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster:
http://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104523/c-17-globemaster-iii/

About Air Mobility Command aeromedical evacuations:
http://www.amc.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/785739/aeromedical-evacuation/

About SOUTHCOM:
http://www.southcom.mil/

About SOUTHCOM support to foreign disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in the region:
http://www.southcom.mil/Lines-of-Effort/Enabling-Rapid-Response/

About the U.S. Agency for International Development:
https://www.usaid.gov/who-we-are

For further information from Shriners Hospitals for Children contact:
Mr. Mel Bower
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
+1 813 281 8643
https://www.guatemalashriners.org/shriners-guatemala
https://www.shrinersinternational.org/SHC/Locations/galveston

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