SINGO, Uganda – An exchange of best practices in advanced combat medicine proved to be a welcomed, back-to-the-basics refresher for two experienced U.S. military medical providers.
U.S. Army Capt. Alexander Alba and U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Guillermo Navarro were invited by the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces to participate in an Advanced Combat Medicine Seminar here, May 14–18.
“It was good to meet other medical providers and talk about medicine,” said Alba, physician’s assistant, Task Force Raptor, 3rd Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas Army National Guard. “The fact that they were service members from Uganda made the discussion even more interesting.”
The medical providers from both countries shared their experiences and best practices for the advancements and breakthroughs in combat medicine.
“U.S. combat medicine has come a long way in the past 10 years. We’ve learned a lot from Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom,” Alba said. “Ugandan combat medical professionals have also learned and evolved from the conflicts they’ve been involved in.”
As Alba, Navarro and the Ugandan medical providers discussed complex medical practices such as applying chest tubes and surgical cricothyrotomy, they decided to take things back a notch.
“Medical technology has advanced so much and allowed us to save more lives than ever before,” Alba said. “While discussing this, we brought up scenarios where maybe access to our modern day equipment wouldn’t be available, so we decided to incorporate a session to discuss basic combat medicine.”
The medical professionals traded their complex, high-tech training aids for simpler items.
“We practiced applying improvised tourniquets using sticks,” Alba said. “We even discussed the basics of casualty evacuations using buddy carries.”
After the week-long seminar discussing advanced medicine practices, Alba appreciated reviewing the basics.
“As advanced medical professionals we are always learning and keeping up with the ever-evolving medical practices,” Alba said. “So to be able to share and revisit basic primary medical care with our Ugandan counterparts was a welcomed refresher and a reminder that these are just as important in saving someone’s life.”