News: Spartans foster medical partnership with Afghan counterparts
Story by Sgt. Javier Amador
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LIGHTNING, Afghanistan – At just two months into their deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Spartans, are hard at work, alongside their Afghan National Security Force counterparts as they continue to assume responsibility for the defense and security of their nation.
The Spartan brigade is currently tasked with advising and assisting the Afghan National Security Forces. To this end, the brigade has been providing the Afghans with mentorship and support in their effort to develop a capable and comprehensive medical corps. The goal is to establish a unit that can provide care for its personnel, from basic combat life saving skills, to advanced trauma care, consistently throughout Afghanistan.
“The big picture, which is an imposing one among the Afghans right now is standardizing their medical care across their area of operations across Afghanistan,” said Army Maj. Nathan Friedline, the Brigade Surgeon for the Spartan brigade.
The standardization of medical care is just one problem among the many others the Spartan brigade is helping their Afghan counterparts solve.
“Some of the things that we have done began at the ground level so we started with combat life saving classes,” said Friedline, “90 percent or more of the lives lost in the battlefield are from massive hemorrhaging and can be remedied in large part with tourniquets and the proper application of a tourniquet is something really simple to disseminate in combat life saving courses.”
The urgent need to get this critical training out to the Afghan National Security Forces is being met by training Afghan instructors who in turn are training their soldiers, helping to ensure the sustainability of the training effort.
Another recent example was a class conducted for five Afghan National Security Force physicians at Assistance Platform Rushmore, a forward operating base in eastern Afghanistan.
“We conduct a tactical combat medical care course in the United States for all of the medical care providers before they deploy and it is a good course because you review advanced trauma life support,” said Friedline, “and the course has evolved over the years because it is centric to trauma in very rural environments which is very pertinent to Afghanistan.”
The class, which is specifically intended for higher echelon care such as physicians and physicians assistants, was used as a model by Maj. Joseph May and Capt. Garrett Larsen of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team 10th Mountain Division. They condensed it and taught the class at AP Rushmore Afghan physicians Dec. 7-9, 2013.
The condensed version was translated to Pashtu and Dari languages, and taught with two days of didactics and one day on the trauma lane, commented Friedline.
The didactic portion of the training provided the Afghan physicians with the classroom portion, while the trauma lane allowed them the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to the test.
Maj. Friedline readily admits that the Afghan National Security Forces are currently facing some daunting challenges, mainly with logistics and the dissemination of knowledge. However, he is confident that the Spartan brigade will continue to make a real difference during their advise and assist partnership with their Afghan medical counterparts.