The swine flu has killed 61 people, and the Charleston Air Force Base is helping fight the spread with a delivery of thousands of protection kits to Mexico’s neighboring countries.
The swine flu, H1N1 virus, has spread across 30 countries in the world, originating in Mexico, and several agencies in the United States have played important roles in attempting to protect more people from catching the disease. On May 2, The United States Agency for International Development sent out over 100,000 personal protection kits to Mexico City. Then, on May 8, The Charleston Air Force Base flew a crew of four on a C-17 to six South American countries, with some 30,000 kits.
Technical Sergeant Jennifer Arredondo of the Charleston Air Force Base says the crew delivered about 5,000 kits to each of the six countries in a 48-hour time span. She says the abrupt delivery was needed to try and stop the spread of the flu.
“Well, it’s really important for these people to have these kits because when they’re taking care of individuals who may have been exposed, or who they know have been exposed to this flu, they need to protect themselves and they have the safety goggles, they have disposal overalls, so if someone may be vomiting they don’t get it on their clothes, they can take their disposal overalls off and throw them out and not have to worry about having direct contact with someone who may be exposed to the flu,” says Arredondo.
Arredondo says the kits also have disposable respirators, shoe covers, waste bags, and aprons inside. The aircrew went to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Honduras to deliver the kits. The U.S. government worked with the governments in these six countries in need of protection due to the spread of the virus. The Charleston Air Force Base was chosen to go because of its close proximity.
“We were chosen because the donated shipment came from a warehouse in Albany, Georgia, a DOD (Department of Defense) warehouse and because we’re the closed C-17 base, they were able to get it to us quickly, we were able to package them up, get them on the airplane, get ’em outta here within the time that we needed to,” says Arredondo.
The crew aboard the C-17 out of Charleston is now back on base.