News: 'We want to save people’s lives'
Story by Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Today, Afghan National Army soldiers train to react to a scenario based on an all-too-real occurrence. The training scenario has “enemies of Afghanistan” attacking an Afghan National Army foot patrol. While some of the ANA soldiers are busy defeating the enemy, others are treating their two wounded comrades.
For the ANA soldiers who took part in this exercise on Forward Operating Base Gamberi, the infantry tactics were not as important as the medical training.
“They have a desire to save a life. We call our medics ‘Doc’,” said U.S. Army Capt. Jeremy Sharp, medical adviser to the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, “They also call their medics ‘Doc.' Having that title…is prestigious.”
The medics ran through the exercise as if it were the real thing. After establishing that the patient was breathing, one medic picked up the patient in his arms and ran towards a nearby bunker, where he could treat the patient in a protected environment.
As some soldiers were applying pressure bandages or tourniquets to the ‘injured’ areas, other soldiers were arranging for ambulances to transport the patients. Standing off to the sidelines were the instructors, making sure that everything was being done correctly.
This training was part of the combat medic course being taught by a mobile training team from the ANA’s medical command. The eight-week course is predominately run by the ANA; the only coalition involvement is at an advising level. The coalition’s advice is from a logistical standpoint concerning the type of equipment or the proper command and control guidance needed to conduct the training.
The ambulances arrived and the patients were loaded in. The ambulances then drove to the aid station, where the students continued to treat the patients and stabilize them for air evacuation.
The students were a mix of brand new medics and veterans who were taking the course as a refresher.
“Before we came here, we did not know about the tourniquet. Now we know with the tourniquet, we can stop the bleeding,” said Pfc. Mohammad Alim, 201st ANA Corps, “We learned how to give an IV for our soldiers … how to save his life. We learned how to check the airway, to make sure it is open. This is the stuff we learned here. Once we go into combat we will use it on our [fellow soldiers].”
Many of the students wanted more training.
“We want to improve ourselves and we want to be able to save many people’s lives, not just [the] military, but civilians [as well],” said Alim. “We want to save people’s lives.”