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Greenbank man helps in earthquake relief effort

An Air Force expeditionary medical support team leaves Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, onboard a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane headed to Angol, Chile, to provide medical assistance to the region following an 8.8-magnitude earthquake. - Air Force photo / Senior Airman Tiffany Troja
An Air Force expeditionary medical support team leaves Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, onboard a C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane headed to Angol, Chile, to provide medical assistance to the region following an 8.8-magnitude earthquake.
— image credit: Air Force photo / Senior Airman Tiffany Troja

When an 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile and severely damaged the regional hospital in Angol, the son of a Greenbank man stepped up to help build a new one.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven C. Criswell, son of Christopher M. Criswell of Greenbank, is part of the 85-person team called to build a field hospital and provide treatment to the 110,000 people in the region. He is a civil engineer deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

“I am here, along with three others, to assist with the erection of the new hospital and getting all of the electrical, lighting, heating and air conditioning and construction phases of the hospital complete,” Criswell said.

Criswell’s efforts allowed U.S. and Chilean agencies to build a fully functional hospital with about 70 beds and two surgical wards to help get earthquake survivors the medical attention they needed.

“The mission here is crucial. The Air Force is providing a much needed asset here, with the local hospital being evacuated and deemed unsafe due to the huge aftershocks that caused major damage to the building,” he said.

“We built a fully functioning hospital, one that will help the people of this region until their new hospital can be rebuilt,” he said.

Even with the devastation, the local people of Angol were friendly and appreciative of Criswell and his fellow airmen and the help they gave the recovering region. While the circumstances weren’t the best for the team, most came away with a positive impression of the country and its people.

“We are staying with the Chilean army, and they have provided us with a barracks and all of our meals. I have only seen very little of their culture, but what I have seen is nothing but very generous and thankful,” said Criswell.

This story was written by Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young.

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