Fires Squadron joins with Iraqi Army medics to bring healthcare to Bassam
October 1, 2007
BASSAM, Iraq - Medical experts from the Fires "Hell" Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment teamed with Iraqi Army healthcare professionals from the 2nd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division (Mechanized) in a joint effort to bring healthcare to the residents here Sept. 27.
The Fires Squadron, attached to the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, coordinated the combined medical effort which also involved the participation of a doctor from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and medics from Charlie Medical Company, 115th Brigade Support Battalion.
During the CME, Iraqi Army troops from the 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division assisted with security and escorting patients and Soldiers from the 2-9 Military Transition Team were on hand to observe the event.
Within the course of the day, the medical staffs saw more than 200 patients who were treated for aches and pains, headaches, colds and other minor complaints at a school which was set up as a clinic for the day.
"We hope the community sees that we really are concerned with the problems of the people in the villages here," said Capt. John Hendricks, Fires Squadron surgeon and a native of Austin, Ind. "The added benefit to the event is our getting to work with the Iraqi Army medics. It's good to get their involvement and they're doing a really great job."
Although the CME was designed to be similar to a military sick call in which patients are treated for minor maladies, when patients came in with major ailments such as heart disease or major burns they were referred to the Iraqi Assistance Program (IAP).
The IAP is an Iraqi government program which refers patients to higher levels of care such as are found in major hospitals.
"In one case, we saw a guy who needed cataract surgery, so what he needs to do is call a number on the paperwork we gave him for the Iraqi Assistance Program in order to be able to receive the proper care he needs," said Hendricks.
Having arrived in theater a little more than a month ago, the CME marked the first time that Fires Squadron personnel have participated in a community outreach healthcare project during this current rotation to Iraq.
During its time in country, the squadron has plans to continue these types of joint efforts throughout its AO to include Fira Shia among other villages, according to Hendricks.
"We plan on doing one once every two weeks until we hit every major area within our AO," said Hendricks. "We're making sure that we treat both Sunnis and Shia equally so they see that we want to pay proper respect to them and their culture."
In one incident during the CME, a father brought his five-year old son, who had a broken arm and a staph infection, into the make-shift clinic.
Hendricks and his medics, although having been in country for a very short period of time, had seen the boy before, having treated him a few weeks earlier at a traffic control point, shortly after he broke his arm.
"They came down here from Sab Al Bor to see us, they knew we were having a CME here. The boy's doing much better, we gave him some antibiotics and the infection seems to be clearing up," said Hendricks, smiling. "He's doing well and it was good to see him today and how much he's improving."
Spc. Kari Cordis, a Fires Squadron medic and a native of Terre Bonne, Ore., said she was impressed with how Iraqi Army medics are progressing towards transition.
"I've received a lot of great encouragement from seeing how they're beginning to take over responsibility for things (like healthcare)," said Cordis. "It makes things even more satisfying for us as we do things like this."
Cordis said she saw the event as a great opportunity to help the average, everyday Iraqi citizen.
"It's been fantastic, and we need to be here and we want to be here to help with these efforts in general," said Cordis. "It's been a real learning curve because it helps us to get a better feel for what the common complaints are here. It's just a small sampling of the population, but we're getting a good idea of what kinds of ailments the people here suffer from. Knowing their ailments, helps us as medics to be able to best serve them."
Spc. Kenneth Maple, a field artilleryman for the Fires Squadron and a native of Cascade, Idaho, who helped pull security during the event, echoed many of Cordis's sentiments.
"While we're here, we need to be able to help them out to the best of our abilities," said Spc. Kenneth Maple, a field artilleryman for the Fires Squadron and a native of Cascade, Idaho. "Being over here makes you realize what you left behind and serves as an opportunity to help those who are less fortunate than we are."
Iraqi Army healthcare professionals said the event was quite meaningful to them and that they hope to continue their efforts in villages throughout this part of Iraq.
"I'm happy to be doing humanitarian missions and doing things to help people," said Iraqi Army Pvt. Ahmed Abdualsuda, a medic for the 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.) "It's my duty to offer my efforts to my people to protect them and serve them."
"This is a beautiful thing and we hope other big events like this one can take place here," said Iraqi Army 2nd Lt. Mohammad Hailan, a nurse who is also with the 2nd Bde., 9th IA Div. (Mech.). "We also hope that we can continue supplying more medical help and more medics, especially to help the children here."