News: Navy corpsmen teach Afghan soldiers lifesaving techniques
Story by Cpl. Daniel Flynn
FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Helmand province, Afghanistan — In a combat zone, as in life, there are many different skills which are important to have. One of the most important is basic medical training. Without at least a basic knowledge of first aid, a person is limited in the amount of risk they are willing to undertake to accomplish their goals.
Several corpsmen with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, working out of the battalion aid station here have been training Afghan national army soldiers in basic combat lifesaving skills. However, these Navy field medics are not only providing life-saving knowledge. The training is also a booster shot for the local ANA's confidence.
Petty Officer 1st Class Dennis Roseta is one of the instructors at the hour-and-a-half-long class every Monday and Wednesday at the ANA compound. The corpsmen teach the Afghan soldiers basic lifesaving techniques, such as applying pressure dressings and tourniquets and how to perform CPR.
The need for these classes was made clear recently after several badly injured Afghan soldiers were brought to the BAS after an IED blast. These soldiers still had open wounds which had not been treated because none of the ANA had the knowledge to do so, according to Chief Petty Officer Clarence Dean Conner.
That incident helped the corpsmen realized they could take the combat lifesaver techniques they had been teaching the Marines and start teaching the Afghan soldiers as well.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Rowell Salanguit said, "Most of the casualties the ANA have are from major bleeding." This is the reason they decided to start with the basics, teaching them how to perform CPR and dress wounds.
"They are very receptive, and interested in learning these techniques, and they love the fact that we are willing to teach them," said Roseta, a native of Bremerton, Wash. "They pick up on the training very quickly, and it shows during the practical application portion of the classes."
According to Conner, the Afghan soldiers are most receptive to a hands-on style of teaching. Because of the language barrier, simply explaining these techniques through an interpreter is much less effective than demonstrating and then coaching the students as they practice on each other.
More than teaching them these basic lifesaving skills, they have also provided them with some of their surplus supplies, to include bandages, tourniquets and other medical supplies.
"I take great pride in my corpsman skills, so I like being able to teach the ANA what I know," said Roseta.
More than just here at Geronimo, the corpsman throughout 1/5's entire area of operations are passing on as much knowledge as they can to the ANA to enhance the skills the Marines are teaching them about basic soldiering.
As of now, the corpsmen are planning to include the continuation of this training in their turn-over with those who will be replacing them when 1/5 is replaced by 1st Bn. 3rd Marines later this year, according to Conner.
The choice these Afghan men have made to become their country's protectors is a risky one. With the help of the Marines' first-line medical professionals, the docs hope to enable them to achieve greater things with their newfound confidence and skill to take care of their own when the need arises.