News: Iraqi medics hone field medical skills
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION K1, Iraq – Medics assigned to Company C, 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force 1st Infantry Division, mentored Iraqi army medics assigned to 12th IA Division during a mass casualty exercise at the 12th IA Division Headquarters in Kirkuk province, Iraq, May 28.
During the training, American medics observed, evaluated and suggested corrections while their Iraqi counterparts performed all of the hands-on medical work.
The Iraqi medics showed an outstanding level of competence and professionalism as they demonstrated life saving abilities, said Staff Sgt. Brian Elsesser, a combat medic assigned to Company C.
“These young medics are really taking advantage of this opportunity to learn from us,” said Elsesser, who hails from Selinsgrove, Pa. “When they don’t know something, they ask us. They are eager to learn and are doing an outstanding job.”
Iraqi medics evaluated mock patients at the scene of an accident and loaded the casualties into ambulances for transport to a field aid station, where the medics provided lifesaving treatment.
By running through the operation from responding to the initial call for an ambulance all the way through treating the patients, the medics gained a more accurate understanding of the steps involved in treating injured comrades, said Pvt. Jamal, who enlisted in the Iraqi army as a medic in November 2010.
“I have worked with the U.S. soldiers twice before, and they always help us a lot with our training,” Jamal said. “They have a lot of experience and they are very good at sharing it with us.”
While many of the Iraqi soldiers in the exercise previously trained as lab technicians or X-ray machine operators, most had little experience working with badly injured patients in the field, Elsesser explained.
“Many of the soldiers had previous training with doing this sort of thing, so some of the guys here today are already very competent at what they are doing, but others still need some practice,” Elsesser said. “Right now we are trying to get everyone to a baseline capability and then we can build them up from there.”
As Company C medics continue training their Iraqi counterparts, Elsesser said he hopes to pass on more in depth lessons to the soldiers responsible for the health and welfare of Iraq’s fighting force.
“Today they asked us to give them a thorough walk-through of everything we do as American medics,” Elsesser said of the students. “They essentially want to emulate what we do—our actions, our fluidity when it comes to treating casualties.”
Elsesser said after working on the basics of combat life saving skills with Iraqi medics on previous deployments, and refining their skills during Operation New Dawn, the Iraqi medical field is ready to make the final push to become a self-sufficient force capable of providing care for their fellow service members.
“I hope they continue to teach each other,” he said. “I believe if they push themselves and each other, they will do great things for their country.”