To deal with the covid-19 pandemic, the President of the Republic announced on March 16 that the armies were going to help in the management of this crisis through the deployment of teams and medical resources to participate to the management of the most seriously affected patients. In response to this unprecedented crisis, the armies launched Operation Resilience, which is their contribution to the inter-ministerial engagement against the spread of covid-19.
The Resilience operation also provides specific support to overseas populations, in order to respond to the specific problems of distance and insularity. The armed forces in the Antilles have been mobilized to assist the population and the civil authorities since the start of the crisis. Reinforcements have been sent from the metropolis to increase their support and support capacity, such as the dispatch of the amphibious helicopter carrier (PHA) Dixmude of the French Navy, decided by the President of the Republic on March 25. Regularly deployed to provide assistance to civilian populations in the event of a crisis, as was the case when Hurricane Irma struck Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy in 2017, PHAs are already known in the Antilles.
At first, the Dixmude delivered, from the metropolitan area, equipment and supplies which, defined in coordination with the interministerial crisis unit, enabled local authorities to increase their crisis management capacity, including more than a million masks, hundreds of liters of hydro-alcoholic gel as well as two helicopters: an EC-145 from civil security and a Squirrel of the National Gendarmerie. These resources have been distributed and delivered by the armed forces to the Antilles, the islands of Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe and Martinique, in accordance with the directives of the prefectures and regional health agencies.
Le Dixmude was then employed under the command of the armed forces in the Antilles to provide logistical or transport missions. The two Army PUMA helicopters on board the Diksmuide have contributed to eleven emergency medical evacuations, including patients with covid-19.
The PHA also participated in the transport of the land forces positioned on the three main islands in order to provide assistance to the population and the administrations. It has systematically used its amphibious capabilities by recognizing the beach sites, in preparation for the cyclone season
The medical evacuation station still in place at SXM
Today the epidemic is stabilized, the deconfinement of Monday May 11 is done in serene conditions. The deployment of the PHA Dixmude will end this week, after almost 1 month spent in the West Indies. He set sail from Fort de France yesterday morning to reach the mainland.
However, in order to guard against a risk of rebound of the post-deconfinement epidemic, the two PUMA helicopters of the Air Force and their crews remain positioned in Martinique. They will be able to continue their missions of support to the civil authorities in the transport of patients - including those affected by covid-19 - as in military missions.
The detachment of 2e Disinfection specialist Dragon regiment also remains in the West Indies. Indispensable for the continuation of patient evacuations, they have the capacity to disinfect helicopters or any other strategic installation. They are also continuing to train disinfection units in order to acquire good reflexes in this area.
In Saint-Martin, the medical evacuation post, installed as a preventive measure at the height of the health crisis, remains in place for a few more weeks, again in order to protect against a potential resumption of the epidemic.
The land forces positioned on the 3 islands also remain in place and continue their actions to support civil authorities and help the population: delivery and distribution of protective masks, water distribution actions and logistical support for CHUs.
FAA thanks PHA sailors Dixmude who have given all their know-how to the benefit of the West Indians and who will leave after weeks of confinement on board in strict sanitary conditions, essential for the preservation of the crew.
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