US medics teach Afghan police how to save lives
May 8, 2013
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - Afghan Uniformed and Border Police attended a train-the-trainer medical class put on by Security Force Assistance Team medics April 29 through May 1 here.
The class, which was similar to the Combat Lifesaver Course for non-medical U.S. soldiers, taught the police to treat a casualty in the field, the importance of those procedures and how to improvise.
"We're trying to give them a little bit more advanced class than CLS," said Sgt. David A. Hixson, a medic from Arlington, Texas serving with SFAT 20, Texas Army National Guard. "Kind of explaining why they need to stop bleeding. So that they can understand the importance of it, and so that they can spread the knowledge to the other troops."
"We're trying to get them a little further along about their knowledge about medicine," said Spc. Jacob R. Garza, a medic from Waco, Texas who is deployed with SFAT 8, Texas Army National Guard. "They understand the medical aspect is important, but they need to understand the reasons why."
The police advanced their knowledge by learning about the internal workings of the human body through slide presentations, handouts and taking detailed notes in order to share what they learned with their units checkpoints, police stations and out on patrol.
"This kind of training is very important in the battlefield and police stations," said ABP Lt. Col. Gharibyar Sharafudden, the Chief of Staff for 4th Kandak, 3rd Zone. "We have to learn this and teach each other."
"This is very important," said AUP 2nd Lt. Dost Mohammed, the executive officer of the Spin Boldak Highway Patrol. "We had medical training in the academy but that was not as sufficient as this is."
What made the training more than the basics taught at the police academies is learning to improvise and use materials that they have on hand or can find in the wilderness.
"The biggest benefit for this training is also showing the improvised," said Hixson. "It's good that they can use our medical supplies but its not always going to be consistent for them. So during this training we showed them a lot of improvised tourniquets, improvised splints. Stuff that they can do even we're not here. It's to make it sustainable for them if they're out on the battlefield or at a remote checkpoint and they can't get to a hospital. If they can teach that to their soldiers it will help preserve their force."
"We basically tailored it down to a remote medical course," said Sgt. Anthony G. Beavers, a medic from Temple, Texas serving with SFAT 9, Texas army National Guard. "We're trying to get them to think outside the box."
Abstract thinking is not the normal way for Afghan soldiers and police due to the rigid command structure but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. By having leaders such as Mohammed and Sharafudden attend the class it shows the U.S. and Afghan personnel how important they see the class.
"It's important that their commanders think it's important, because it's a commander-down driven force," said Hixson. "So, if the commander is all about medical training the troops will actually listen to it."
Its also important to have the students believe in what they are learning so that they will be excited and ready to pass on what they have learned. After completing the hands-on training the police will be able to train others on savings lives and make an impact in their units.
"It will pretty much just give them the confidence and ability to train other soldiers and to hopefully save another persons life," said Hixson. "It's giving them the ability and having them believe in it."