CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City – Filipino, U.S., and Australian health and medical specialists visited Pangil, Laguna Tuesday, April 3, for a Cooperative Health Engagement (CHE) as part of the Philippine-U.S. Exercise Balikatan 2019.

The CHEs aim to provide immediate assistance to communities and give residents the necessary awareness and basic knowledge to be able to respond to local emergencies. They are part of the broader Humanitarian and Civic Assistance portion of Balikatan, which also includes engineering and civic assistance projects and community relations events.

"Nagpapasalamat kami samganamumuno ng Balikatan sapag-aabotnila ng tulong at papagbibigaynila ng kaalamansaaming barangay [We are truly grateful to the organizers of this event for bringing their services to our barangay]," said Aileen Endaya, a local resident who participated in the event.

Over 6,600 residents in the Balian barangay were given basic life support and emergency response training by the total combined force and the Philippine Red Cross-Laguna Chapter. Armed Forces of the Philippines service members and the Red Cross workers also provided hygiene management and medical, dental, and veterinary services to the local community members.

"The CHE is a learning opportunity not just for the residents of Balian, but also for the Filipino, American, and Australian military personnel who get to know of each other's best practices," said Philippine Army Lt Col Roslyn Ilarde, CHE lead planner.

Health workers and local first responders, composed of barangay police, or "tanods," were also trained in basic life support, first aid, and emergency evacuation.

"We are very excited to be here in this beautiful barangay, and [we] are receiving great support from the community,” said U.S. Navy LT Mary Morin, CHE Officer in Charge. “That, along with learning the best practices of our AFP counterparts, has made this a truly wonderful all around experience," she said.

Residents also learned about community cleanliness management, including methods of preventing the spread of common diseases, like leptospirosis and dengue, and to help control pests. Pets were dewormed and given rabies vaccines, while their owners underwent pet care management and responsible pet ownership seminars.

Exercises such as Balikatan increase the ability of Philippine, U.S. and Australian forces to work together. Humanitarian and civic assistance activities enable our service members to get to know each other and provide support to local communities