News: Sappers continue to enhance lifesaving and warrior skills while deployed
Story by 1st Lt. Laura Beebe
KABUL, Afghanistan – Soldiers with Joint Task Force Sapper Headquarters recently completed a refresher course on combat lifesaving skills.
The course was one of the ways that the soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Engineer Brigade, have continued to improve their proficiency in basic tasks.
The JTF Sapper headquarters recently established a personnel security detail (PSD), after moving their headquarters to Kabul, the country’s capital. This is critical because as the Afghan National Army’s National Engineer Brigade gains momentum, the face-to-face interaction with key personnel is needed to further advise the ANA Engineer leaders, and the NEB headquarters will call Ghazi, also located within the Kabul limits, home.
The PSD will give the Theater Engineer Brigade Commander the ability to now move around the Kabul limits to conduct these critical interactions.
“When we arrived to NKC and were told that vehicles were going to become part of the PSD, the guardian angel duties that used to only involve myself and Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Galyon, was expanded to add drive capabilities to the command team,” Master Sgt. Agustin Cruz, one of the PSD NCOICs explained.
Cruz has been working with the command team since arrival into country, as he and Galyon accompanied the commander and command sergeant major on certain battle field circulation or key leader engagements.
With the implementation of this movement and security detail, JTF Sapper leadership ensured that even while deployed, these soldiers were given the training to refresh the basic skills of “shoot, move, and communicate.”
“Basic skills are always important to train on regardless of where you are or what unit you are in,” said Cruz. “Never let the basic tasks go because they make the big tasks happen.”
This training also included lifesaving training given by the JTF Sapper Medical NCOIC, Master Sgt. Ana Alvarenga. Training on how to react quickly in an emergency situation and respond with not only “buddy aid,” where a soldier performs first aid on another soldier, but also on self-aid, where a Soldier can perform basic first aid on themselves if they are able to.
Through training while deployed, soldiers can also learn about new devices or techniques that have been fielded. The medical training JTF Sapper recently conducted went over one of these new devices, a cloth called water gel. The convection properties it contains draws the heat out of a burn to evaporate it into the surrounding atmosphere.
Col. Diana Holland, Theater Engineer Brigade Commander, described the importance of staying on top of their toes, and keeping their skills fresh and muscle memory on point, by simply saying, “Complacency is not an option.”
“All soldiers should be proficient and continue to ensure proficiency, especially in hemorrhage control,” said Alvarenga. “You never know when you will need to use these skills.”
The 130th headquarters has been deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan since September 2013 and is currently halfway through their nine month deployment, scheduled to end in June 2014.