News: US medical instructors hope to take backseat to ANA
ZHARAY DISTRICT, Afghanistan - The men look like an odd duo. One towers over other men while dispensing advice or praise to those around him in an accent that leaves little doubt to his South African roots, the other is shorter and quieter but makes up the backbone of the training program the two supervise.
The two men, a physician’s assistant and a medic, both assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, celebrated the graduation May 24 of a class of Combat Lifesavers they had instructed in Zharay district, Kandahar province at Forward Operating Base Azizzullah. The classes, given to members of the Afghan National Security Forces, are designed to give frontline troops the skills needed to keep their injured compatriots alive and transport them to a treatment facility.
For Sgt. Joshua Ebert and 1st Lt. Trevor Dell, this was their second class of CLS students, but it differed sharply from the first and, they hope, from what the third will be like.
“For the first class, we identified medics from the 4th Kandak who we had trained with before,” said 1st Lt. Dell. “We picked guys to become trainers to begin teaching before we leave.”
Three medics were identified as potential trainers, explained 1st Lt. Dell. Two of them returned to teach the second class while the third went to a leadership school. He is expected to return and help with the next class.
That was the primary change from the first class to the second; the U.S. faces that dominated the original training took a backseat to the 4th Kandak medics.
“This time we concentrated on quality control as the ANA medics taught the class,” said Sgt. Ebert, a medic in 2-321st, 4th Brigade Combat Team. “We provided assistance during hands-on training and we helped with some medical terminology.”
1st Lt. Dell said, “What we did was have the interpreters who worked the first class sit in on the second class and act as a quality control. Then we knew if the ANA medics forgot something or missed something.”
“We tried to keep as much distance as possible from the class so they wouldn’t see us as instructors,” he explained. “When we thought we should suggest something we’d do it offline, behind a wall during a break or something. We’d try and get them to see the next step through, figure it out for themselves.”
Still, the 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers aren’t ready to call it mission complete as they still provide administrative support.
“For the next class we expect our level of involvement to be reduced as they develop, they’ll help and take over planning, setting up and organizing class dates instead of just the medical piece,” said 1st Lt. Dell.
Azizzullah provides a particularly good site to develop instructors as it has become the training hub for Afghan servicemembers who serve under Unified Command Team Zharay-Maiwand. The UCT, a partnership of the ANA 3rd Brigade, 205th Infantry Corps, police forces in Zharay and Maiwand districts as well as U.S. soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, embodies all the forces working with the Zharay and Maiwand district governments to improve stability in the area. This partnership gave the ANA medics experience in training not only their own, but other Afghans defending the peace.
“We had [Civil Order Police] in this class,” said Sgt. Ebert. “We had really good cohesion, the ANA and [Civil Order Police] worked together in small groups in class and during the MASCALs.”
The MASCALs, or mass casualty events, provided a real and immediate chance for the CLS students to prove their proficiency. At two times during the course, vehicle accidents resulted in real-world patients who needed immediate, lifesaving assistance. The students’ reactions during the events displayed their abilities to not only follow the lessons of CLS, but apply the principles their 4th Kandak instructors had taught them.
“They quickly jumped in and assisted the ANA medics,” said Sgt. Ebert. “One U.S. and one Afghan medic worked with CLS at each table. The U.S. provided care oversight but the Afghans did the rest; organizing transportation and helping with care.”
As the Afghans move forward on this and other training and combat initiatives, everyone keeps a close eye on the U.S. timetable for withdrawal. 1st Lt. Dell has three questions he asks himself as he looks to the future.
“First, do teachers have the knowledge? Second, do they have what they need to teach that knowledge? Third, do the people have the equipment they need to employ the knowledge? When we have that, they’re ready.”
Date Posted:05.27.2012 07:26
Location:ZHARAY DISTRICT, AF
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