IA Soldiers learn life-saving skills
March 28, 2009
BAGHDAD - Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldiers of 6th Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team joined with Soldiers of the 6th IA Div. March 25 to impart combat lifesaver skills that will help IA troops to shoulder more of the load as Coalition forces draw back.
MiTT members taught a variety of first aid techniques including treatment of head trauma, fractures, impaled objects and controlling bleeding.
"Basically [the goal of the] training that we conducted is...to combine the experience of the Iraqi medics along with the American medics," said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Petty, medical advisor, 6th IA Div. MiTT. "We're trying to get them trained on trauma-type situations; things they can carry out on the battlefield."
The Iraqis also received instruction on Tactical Combat Casualty Care, according to Sgt. 1st Class Victor Orozco, a medical advisor with 6th IA Div. MiTT. "TC-3 is one of the new things the Army came up with; basically it describes phases of care," he said. "It deals with care under fire ... you're out on patrol and someone goes down - what do you do' It refreshes perspective. You don't stop what you do to take care of the casualty, you continue to fight."
Administering intravenous fluids, a mainstay of the combat lifesaver class, was a highlight, according to Petty, originally from Merritt Island, Fla.
"For the I.V. sticks, the majority of the students we had have never done an I.V. before so it was a little interesting," he said. "What we did was incorporate the [Iraqi] medics from the Engineer Battalion and the [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] Battalion, we allowed them to get involved and take charge of helping their own Soldiers conduct the I.V. training."
To further put the IA Soldiers at ease with working with needles, Petty demonstrated his trust in the Iraqis by letting one of their medics, Sgt. Maj. Shakir Kenyab Moktaf Farhan, 6th IA Div., administer an I.V. on him.
Needles notwithstanding, most of the Iraqi Soldiers had no medical experience at all, according to Petty.
"I'd say that for 90 to 95 percent of the students, it was their first medical training; the only people who had medical training were the actual medics," he said. "They grasped the concept very fast, which I was pretty surprised. They were willing to learn, they were very motivated and it showed in the training."
In addition to the regular Soldiers, 6th IA Div. medics received experience on teaching techniques so they can instruct their own Soldiers without the help of Coalition forces in the future.
"Even though we trained [the Soldiers], we allowed the Iraqi medics to take charge to show them that, 'Hey they know this stuff too,' and they give the exact same training the Americans give,'" said Petty.
The Iraqi medics were given an additional two days of training prior to the event to prepare them to teach the class alongside the MiTT team.
"We were all on the same sheet of music when we started the training so we worked as one when training the other [Iraqi] Soldiers and not as two different sections," said Sgt. 1st Class Preston Grant, Karkh Area Command liaison, 6th IA Div. MiTT. "No matter whether it was an American Soldier or an Iraqi Soldier, we were all training the same thing."
Enlisting the aid of medics to teach the class is intended to enforce the Iraqis' confidence in their own medics, both as teachers and as medical aid on the battlefield, according to Petty.
"The biggest lesson I wanted the Iraqis to take away from the training is to trust in their own medics," he said. "I like to instill the confidence in their own medics to see how well-trained they are, to allow them to take charge of their own."
To culminate the training, the IA Soldiers participated in a capstone exercise designed to put all their newly-learned skills to the test.
"We want them to be able to think on their feet, not just talking in a classroom, but when they get into scenarios, they have to be able to think and process as it goes," Grant said.
The finale consisted of three separate scenarios: a mass casualty situation; a room clearing exercise with casualties; and an improvised explosive device explosion.
The Iraqis were familiar with some of the training scenarios, but adding casualties was a new touch, according to Orozco.
"The ISR Battalion has been training for months and they're doing an excellent job but now the situation is what to do when you get wounded," he said. "We show them that they can actually take care of their buddy if he goes down."
At the end of the exercise, the Iraqis came away with important knowledge and a good idea of its battlefield applications, Petty added.
"For the guys that don't have a medic, at least they can have someone that does have some type of medical training that can take care of a person while out on a mission," he said.