Surgeon's office imparts life-saving techniques in Burkina Faso
November 18, 2013
Helping Africans solve African problems is one of U.S. Army Africa's primary priorities. In support of this, USARAF Surgeon's Directorate just completed the second of eight Tactical Combat Casualty Care training events in Burkina Faso with the Burkinabe Gendarmerie to minimize the amount of preventable deaths they might encounter during battle. The six remaining training events are scheduled to take place now through August 2014 in different countries throughout the African continent.
TCCC training focuses on the two largest causes of preventable death, hemorrhaging (bleeding out) and tension pheumothorax (air in the chest cavity creating pressure which compresses the lungs and the large blood vessels).
"From the tactical level, training of Tactical Combat Casualty Care helps leverage combat lessons learned over the last 12 years to help decrease preventable death," said Col. Jim Czarnik, USARAF Surgeon. "So, day to day, the likelihood that an injured Gendarme will survive clearly would increase. However, more importantly, it will replace the sense of futility many of them (or us for that matter) feel as by-standers to a traumatic event," Czarnik said.
Many people are stuck in a 'Gape and Awe' when they see a traumatic event because they do not respond to the event with a sudden "rise" to the occasion, but rather they "fall" to their level of training.
"So, not only does the patient not get care, but those standing by are left with a feeling of guilt afterword with the thoughts that 'they should have done something,'" the command surgeon said. "The goal is this sense of medical empowerment will spread throughout the Gendarmerie and not only decrease mortality, but increase confidence."
This TCCC training will not only help save lives, it will help the Burkinabe Gendarmerie better secure their northern borders from extremist threats emanating from Mali and Niger and to counter the illicit flow of weapons, drugs, money, and people.
"When the local population sees the Gendarmerie put these life-saving techniques into action for police and civilians alike, the population's belief in 'their' police and 'their' system will increase," Czarnik said. "This will, over time, help develop the populace's confidence in their government's ability to provide services and demonstrate their leadership truly cares."
Master Sgt. Richard Russell, operations noncommissioned officer from the USARAF Surgeon Directorate, leads and coordinates TCCC training on the continent, and understands both short- and long-term benefits of the life-saving training.
"Short term, providing the Burkinabe Gendarmerie with TCCC training will help them understand the causes of death on the battlefield, and how to integrate the appropriate skill to the appropriate situation. They will also have the confidence to take action when faced with these difficult battlefield situations," Russell said. "Long term, we provided this training to small groups (10 five-person teams) of Burkinabe Gendarmerie from around the country. After completing this training they will return to their units and provide this training to others building their overall capacity."
Given the 'spider web-like' nature of life on this planet, instability in one region will be felt throughout the rest of humanity's web. It is through this sometimes direct and sometimes indirect approach that USARAF's assistance and training is important.
"Civilization across the globe becomes progressively more interconnected and interdependent every day. The borderless nature of economies, streaming media, travel, as well as demand for resources requires that we, as a Nation, ensure that we not only look internally to ensure our safety and stability, but also look externally to potential threats to our people and interests. In doing so, we help build toward a better peace," Czarnik said.
USARAF's goal is to ensure America's interests are protected in Africa.
"It is in the interest of the United States to assist with the overall capability and capacity of the African Nations to build their ability to not only provide basic services to their people, but also maintain their ability to protect their own interests," Czarnik concluded.
Knowing that the Burkinabe people are a little safer because of the sustainment training the USARAF Surgeon's team provided their Gendarmerie was the biggest 'take-a-way' for Russell.
"Training such a motivated, willing, and eager group of Soldiers was a great experience," Russell said. "These experiences help keep me grounded and appreciative of the opportunities I have been given throughout my career. I left Burkina Faso knowing I truly made a difference in a country that does not always receive this level of medical training."
During the Surgeon Directorate's first mission in September 2013, they partnered with 2nd Infantry Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan., to teach the Special Anti-Terrorism Group (SATG) in Chad. For the next TCCC training, the USARAF Surgeon's team along with 2nd ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. will return to Chad.