By Spc. Laura Johnson, MND-B PAOMarch 31, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq-As members of the Iraqi Security Forces Partnership Team arrive at the Iraqi medical clinic here it is unusually quiet. There are no patients in the sick call waiting area, the sign-in roster is blank and beds are empty. The white tile floors are squeaky clean, untouched by the mass of patients usually treading through the doors. The smell of antiseptic still lingers in the air and the only sounds are the medics chatting, enjoying a rare moment of peace.
Due to efforts of Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces there were no injured patients in the clinic that morning, making it easier for the partnership team to review the upcoming schedule for the Iraqi medical sustainment training.
Through continuous training with the ISF Partnership Team, Iraqi troops are able to sustain their own medical centers and perform life-saving techniques in a combat situation.
"Our mission is to provide Iraqi personnel with medical [training], so they can maintain their clinics without the support of the U.S. Government," said Spc. Dante Wyrick, member of the Iraqi Security Forces Partnership Team, C Company, 328th Brigade Support Battalion, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team and a native of Langston, Pa.
One of the Iraqi Army troop medical clinics is located on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji and is run entirely by IA medics. Open for three years, the clinic contains a full-service dental office, pharmacy and an area for X-rays.
"This is a functioning level-two clinic. At level one, medics just receive basic combat life saver skills," said Sgt. Christopher Walker, non-commissioned officer in charge of the ISF Partnership Team, C Co., 328th BSB, 56th SBCT, who hails from York, Pa.
"Level two is the highest level of medical care for the Iraqi Army right now," said 2nd Lt. Bahaa Sabree Fakhre, Iraqi Army deputy commander of the medical clinic. "Once we begin to get what we need, such as certified doctors and more supplies, we can hopefully become a level-three clinic and depend entirely on ourselves."
Though Iraqi medics working at the level-two clinics have been certified through civilian schools, training received by U.S. Army medics help refine their skills in advanced medical techniques.
"They are already fully qualified, but because curriculums change we just try to offer suggestions based on the new curriculums," said Walker. "We try to help them [IA medics] be more proficient."
Consequently, the ISF Partnership Team from the 328th BSB conducts sustainment training once a week with the IA medics. These classes are mainly taught by IA medics through classroom and hands-on exercises with U.S. Soldiers observing and giving advice on steps and guidelines.
Sustainment training consists of refresher courses on basic emergency medical treatment and an advanced combat life saver class. "2nd Lt. Bahaa and other Iraqi medics teach basic EMT and combat life saver courses," said Walker. "We're just here to observe and assist if necessary."
"There is a schedule in place that enables some of the Iraqi providers and medics to work with our providers and for our providers to shadow them to see how things are working out," added Walker.
As the IA medics acquire more skills and the U.S. Army pulls out, they hope to be able to continue to sustain themselves, but because it is a new army they still need help in certain areas, said Bahaa.
Due to the security agreement, Soldiers are acting as enablers to help the Iraqi Army focus more on logistical aspects of operations and much less on the tactical side of the house. That is what the partnership team is all about, said Walker.
Though the overall mission in Iraq has changed, goals for both the partnership teams and leaders of the IA medical clinic remain constant.
"They are already doing a great job," said Walker. "My job and goal is to help them maintain that when we're gone."
Bahaa agrees, the training is beneficial to IA medics and they look forward to taking over and sustaining themselves without help from U.S. troops.
Presently both the partnership team members and ISF continue to work collectively to achieve their shared goals of a sustainable IA troop medical clinic and accomplish the mission set before them.