News: Iraqi soldiers test skills in mass casualty exercise at Taji
Story by Spc. Michael Camacho
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — U.S. military medics held a mass casualty simulation for Iraqi army medics to exercise their combat medicine skills Jan. 27 at Camp Taji, Iraq.
Medics with the 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) conducted two three-day combat medicine courses for the Iraqi Army medics prior to the MASCAL exercise.
The classes built on what the Iraqi medics already knew, said Staff Sgt. Michael Carlson, a medic with the 1161st Transportation Company Task Force, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sust. Bde., 13th ESC and a Yakima, Wash., native.
U.S. Soldiers and medics with the 96th Sust. Bde. posed as casualties injured in a vehicle hit by an improvised explosive device, said Maj. Joseph Sciammarella, a battalion field surgeon with the 96th Sust. Bde. This MASCAL simulation required the Iraqi army medics to use the knowledge they learned in a controlled environment, he said.
"They had a chance to practice the skills they learned in the classroom over the past several weeks on patients with simulated injuries," said Sciammarella, a Lindenhurst, N.Y., native. "This gives them a chance to actually do a hands-on scenario in a life-like situation, so they get the pressure of being at an emergency where things can be a little chaotic."
The classes taught the ideas and the how to portion, and the practical exercise required quick reactive thought and application of the training, he said.
"A little bit of extra pressure adds to their ability to get their own confidence built up, [so] that they can actually take care of casualties in an emergency situation," said Sciammarella.
Within 20 minutes, the Iraqi medics went through all of the proper procedures as they evaluated the victims, said Carlson. They provided medical treatment to the injured victims and transported them to medical rescue vehicles, he said.
"They were eager," said Carlson. "They officially utilized all the training and equipment that was provided to them for this exercise."
The simulated victims made the training realistic, said Sgt. Maj. Ahmed Jabbar, a lab technician with the Taji Location Medical Command, through a translator. The yells and screams of people in distress increased the intensity of the experience, said Jabbar, a Baghdad native. The training greatly improved the combat medicine knowledge of the medical staff, said Jabbar.
The medical staff of the 96th Sust. Bde. provided in-depth training with life-saving skills for combat situations, said Iraqi Army Maj. Adnan Naji, commander of the Taji Command Medical Clinic Level 2.
Naji, a Baghdad native, said the Iraqis are still learning, but their skills are steadily improving with training.
Carlson said the Iraqis were provided with educational material like that they were trained with, so they could train their own personnel and strengthen their skills as they do so, he said.
The MASCAL exercise, coupled with the training they received, better prepared the Iraqi medics to save lives, said Sciammarella.
Sciammarella said, "They've proven to themselves that they can do these techniques on actual victims, outside of the classroom where things can go wrong."