News: Warhorse Brigade assists local doctors to save infant lives
Story by Sgt. Rodney Foliente
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq — The doctors and medical staff of the Warhorse Brigade conducted neonatal resuscitation training at Contingency Operating Base Basra for local doctors June 10-11.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, offered the training and introduced new procedures and equipment that can help save infant lives and reduce the risk of babies suffering from cerebral palsy and mental retardation.
"Iraq has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world," said Maj. Roger Brockbank, 2nd BCT surgeon, 4th Inf. Div. Recent studies also show that many instances of cerebral palsy and mental retardation may have been avoided with proper resuscitation training.
"The first few minutes of an infant's life are critical, as the infant makes the transition from the womb to breathing in the outside world. A lot of times, simple interventions and techniques can help the infants in need of assistance, to make that transition and lead healthy lives," continued Brockbank, who calls Colorado Springs, Colo., home.
In addition to the training, the brigade has provided training aids and equipment donated from American non-government organizations. The donated equipment and training aids included infant-sized mannequins with simulated lungs, and tools to perform a variety of resuscitation measures. The mouths, throats and lungs of the mannequins are also realistically formed, allowing staff members to train on emergencies procedures, such as inserting breathing tubes.
The training program was coordinated with the provincial government and the directors of the Basra Women's and Children's Hospital, said Capt. Will Smith, 2nd BCT medical operations officer, 4th Inf. Div.
"It was exciting to see the local doctors take the lead as they establish an ongoing neonatal resuscitation training program, which will result in improving their provincial healthcare capacity. I was inspired by their enthusiasm and I feel confident in the ability of the Iraqi doctors and the ministry of Health to care for their people," said Smith, who also calls Colorado Springs home.
"We wanted to provide a training program for physicians in Basra so they can in turn, train other physicians, nurses and midwives in neonatal resuscitation techniques," said Brockbank. "It's been very rewarding, being able to provide a program that can continue when we move on. It will be very beneficial to the people, especially the infants born in Basra."
The train-the-trainer program can continue to progress and escalate until the Basra Women's and Children's Hospital becomes a center of training for medical staff members from other hospitals as well. In Diwaniya, where the Warhorse Brigade was headquartered during the first half of its deployment, the neonatal resuscitation training program has grown and continues to meet with success, explained Brockbank.
The initial course will now help the doctors and residents to train the rest of the pediatric staff at the hospital before expanding it further, said Dr. Ghufran, a female pediatrician. She said she is optimistic that the training will lead to a healthier start for a greater number of children: her country's future.
"This training will benefit our whole pediatric staff, so they know better how to assist the doctors and care for the babies in [case of] complications. The babies don't depend only on the doctors for survival; they depend on the whole [medical] staff," emphasized Ghufran.
"I became a doctor to help people and save lives. In Iraq, we have many complications in post-deliveries. Many babies end up [having] cerebral palsy, are paralyzed or die because of birth asphyxia," said Dr. Ayssar, a pediatric resident in Basra. "This training will help us prevent these things from happening; to help [ensure] healthier futures [and] save the lives of infants."