BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan— In a series of first, the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon, began classes for the Afghan national army air corps Flight Medic Academy, March 15 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
"You are the difference between life and death for those Soldiers on the ground," said U.S. Army Sgt. Kieth Rudd, flight medic for Company C, MEDEVAC, Task Force Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, during the first portion of the class. "Not just Soldiers, but also the local population. We are here to help get them to medical facilities so they can receive the best medical care available."
The first class of two Afghan national army medics and one interpreter will study the history of medevac, loading and unloading patients and in-flight care. Flight medics from TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon, will instruct the class, which includes both in-class instruction and flying.
"There are three phases to the academy," said U.S. Army Capt. Erika Noyes, C Company, MEDEVAC, TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon. "The phase one is classroom instruction where we teach the basics and lay the foundation. Phase two is a three week crew chief academy where they become familiar with the aircraft, learn crew coordination and learn to become an integral part of the crew. During phase three our flight medics team with them to conduct advanced training — advanced circulation, extractions, hoist and how to use the Jaws of Life."
The flight medic academy is the third academy hosted by TF Falcon, the other two being the Afghan National Security Forces Crew Chief Academy and the ANSF Air Assault Academy. All three academies are designed to train and equip Afghan forces with the end goal of turning over increasing responsibility to the Afghan forces.
"This academy gives us an opportunity to work combined actions and to work skill sets between our flight medics and their flight medics," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph McCormick, platoon sergeant in C Company, MEDEVAC, TF Knighthawk, 3rd CAB, TF Falcon. "The ability to increase our capabilities to treat all Soldiers on the battlefield both coalition and Afghan soldiers, plays a huge role in our overall success. But, this is the crawl phase; soon we will be walking side-by-side."
The academy comes a week before the ANA officially announces a flight medic position. Prior to the announcement, medics served in an unofficial position without in-depth training. At the completion of the course, the medics will then be qualified flight medics. ANA Master Sgt. Abdur Rahim, an ANAAC medic participating in the course, said he is honored to be one of the first medics to participate in the class.
"I feel happy because now we can help our people," said Rahim. "When we were in our own facility, we didn't have the equipment we needed, but we are getting it. We need to learn and train on how to use the equipment we will be receiving and also learn more information about medevac."
As Rudd explained the history of military medevac to the ANA medics, he shared stories of medevac units flying into landing zones under enemy fire and staying until they received their patients.
"I don't tell you these stories to scare you, but to show you the amount of integrity and the amount of honor it takes to get [the patient] out [of harm's way]," said Rudd. "These are our stories and now you have the opportunity to write your story. We are humbled and thankful to have you here, to teach you these skills and to help you write your story."