LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army health care specialists mentored Afghan National Army soldiers on combat life-saving skills at Forward Operating Base Gamberi, March 31.
Soldiers assigned to Company C, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, have a motto, “Cheat death, Save lives.”
The combat medics also known as “Comanches,” communicated with the use of Afghan translators to provide the combat life saver class. The medics shared their knowledge and experience with ANA medics, who travelled to FOB Gamberi from various battalions in Afghanistan, for the training.
One of the ANA medics who participated in the four-day class, Sgt. Maj. Kheraz Gul, ANA 201st Corps, surgeon cell, senior enlisted advisor said it is hard for the ANA soldiers to travel from their units to FOB Gamberi but the trip was definitely worth it.
On the first day of class, U.S. Staff Sgt. Kristal Wise, a health care specialist assigned to Company C, 27th BSB, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., gave lectures on the 3 phases of combat casualty care. The initial training was in a classroom environment but later they completed realistic exercises outdoors.
Wise and her soldiers kept the training from being monotonous using realistic scenarios and fake blood on practice dummy mannequins. She reminded the ANA soldiers that in the event of an attack, they must be soldiers first and suppress enemy fire and take cover.
“When the situation allows, that is when they will go and treat a casualty,” said the Miami, Fla., native. “Once they stop the bleeding, they can move their casualty someplace with more security like an abandoned building or a bunker.”
On the second day, the ANA soldiers were taught how to control bleeding with the use of tourniquets and medical gauze. The following day, they practiced tactical casualty movement.
“There is no perfect situation in combat,” said Wise. “You have to figure out what works best for your situation.”
The medics practiced casualty movement with the use of Skedco or Talon collapsible litters and practice dummy mannequins.
The ANA units might not have the same equipment U.S. forces might have in their inventory, so Wise showed them how to improvise with whatever equipment they might have.
“We made litters with the use of blankets, uniform blouses, and I even showed them how to use 550 cord and D-rings and attach that to a casualty’s uniform,” said Wise.
The U.S. Army issues Combat Application Tourniquets to soldiers in deployed environments. Some Soldiers are told to have one in either the shoulder pocket or on the side pant pocket. Wise showed the ANA soldiers how to put together a tourniquet using a handkerchief and some sticks taped together.
Besides the culture and language barriers, Wise said she had no trouble mentoring the ANA soldiers because they have a medical background. One ANA soldier has 20 years being a medic.
“I told them we are different but we are the same. We are both medics fighting for our country. We have families that we are away from and we miss them,” said Wise.
Gul said he really liked having Wise as an instructor.
“She would joke and laugh with us, but when we had to move she raised her voice to show us how to do things correctly, like a good [ on-commissioned officer] should,” he said.
Wise said that was the first time mentoring ANA soldiers and is working on having another class in a few weeks, hopefully with a larger group of soldiers.
Gul said the good thing about the combat life saver training was that the ANA medics will return to their units and conduct the life-saving training with their non-medical soldiers. That way, they wouldn’t have to travel all the way to FOB Gamberi.