Class plants seeds for better combat casualty care
October 30, 2013
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Oct. 22, 2013) -- "Can you hear me? Are you okay?" U.S. Army Sgt. Joshua Price shouted, while his battle buddy, Staff Sgt. Barry Carr, provided cover fire.
The casualty made no reply, so Price low-crawled toward him across the stretch of rough gravel and dirt, his medic bag slung over his shoulder. Carr continued to supply suppressive fire.
Once he reached him, Price began attending to the casualty's injuries.
Well, simulated injuries. The casualty was a practice dummy, the gunfire was imaginary, and the gravel and dirt stretch was a back road on the forward operating base.
Once Price and Carr finished navigating the Combat Life Saver course practice lane, Carr, of Fort Knox, Ky., turned to the other men in the class and said, "This is the type of training you have to take back to your units and teach to your soldiers."
Carr, a radiology specialist, and Price, a healthcare specialist, both with Company C, 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, taught a CLS course to Afghan Border Police and Afghan National Civil Order Police officers at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 20-22.
During the three days, Carr and Price instructed their students on various techniques for bandaging injuries, restoring breathing and transporting patients from the scene of the injury to safety.
What made the class unique was all nine of the Afghan police officers had prior medical training and experience.
"Once we found out we were teaching medical personnel," said Price, who is from Jacksonville, Fla., "we were trying to show them different ways to skin a cat, per se."
The class covered the basics of Tactical Combat Casualty Care, a first-aid course formulated in the 1990s and introduced to the U.S. Army shortly thereafter. TCCC has three distinct phases -- care under fire, tactical field care and tactical evacuation care -- which enable Soldiers to treat teammates, wounded on the battlefield, with maximum efficiency and then transport them to safety.
Research compiled since World War II indicated that many battlefield fatalities, particularly those due to blood loss from extremity wounds, tension pneumothorax (e.g., a collapsed lung) and airway trouble, are preventable with timely, focused care. TCCC focuses specifically on treating such injuries. Since TCCC's introduction to the Army, the survival rate associated with the most common causes of preventable death has improved significantly.
As Afghan National Security Forces face the same hazards from gunfire and explosives that U.S. forces do on the battlefield, the ABP and ANCOP officers were particularly glad to learn the ropes of TCCC.
"In all the time that we've been soldiers, we haven't learned as many techniques [in such a short time] as we have in this three-day course," said ABP Maj. Abdul Hadi, a dentist who assists with other medical and surgical procedures at the ABP Zone 1 police clinic in Jalalabad. "We hope this will save the lives of our friends in the field."
Their U.S. teachers said they were also hopeful about the opportunities opened up by the train-the-trainer session.
"This was our first one," Price said. "It opened our eyes to what we can do with them and what they can do with us, and I think it [means] just a brighter future."