By Sgt. Beth Lake, USARCENT Public AffairsApril 20, 2009
In a medical emergency, time can be an enemy. The longer it takes to transport a patient to the hospital, the higher the probability they may not survive.
U.S. Army Central and Kenyan Army Soldiers' skills were put to this test during a medical evacuation exercise, April 17, in Mombasa, Kenya.
Participants were assigned an emergency and took action, said Sgt. Kelsi Dammann, USARCENT combat medic. They were given a realistic scenario and were timed on how long it took to get to a medical facility.
Though Soldiers knew an emergency was coming, they did not know what it would be. This element of surprise assessed USARCENT and Kenyan Soldiers' ability on working together to diagnose and successfully transport a patient to the hospital.
With the clock ticking, traffic became an immediate challenge as the ambulance raced to the Aga Khan Hospital in Mombasa. Kenyan Army Soldiers reacted quickly by jumping out of their vehicles.
"I was concerned that if this were a true cardiac arrest that we wouldn't make it to the hospital, but they got out there and cleared the road and we were able to clear through traffic quickly and efficiently," said Capt. Jonathan Ji, M.D., USARCENT field surgeon.
Ji explained that in a trauma, there is a thing known is the golden hour. Every second counts in saving a life.
At the hospital, Dr. Majid Twahir, Medical Director of Aga Khan Hospital, was the only staffer who knew that this was a training event.
"I was the only one who knew this was going to happen," Twahir said. "We had already arranged in advance what the sequence would be and so we alerted the staff. We alerted ICU and the laboratory and we let them know there was a patient coming in who might be having cardiac arrest."
Upon arrival, the ambulance was greeted and the patient rushed in for care.
"Our goal was deliver the patient to the hospital with the optimal care in the minimal time possible," said Maj. George Moturi, M.D., Kenya Army medical officer. "We were told it would take an hour and we arrived in 20-30 minutes."
The participants in the exercise not only overcame the challenges of time, trauma, and environment, they did so while working together.
Capt. Muranga Risper, Kenya army nursing officer touched on the importance of working with the U.S. Army.
"It is important because we are the host country; we are trying to work together to make sure they understand what we have in our ambulances and how we do it in Kenyan and they (U.S. Army) can tell us how they do it so we can synchronize and work together," said Risper.
In addition to the value of training in a joint environment, the MEDEVAC refined Soldiers' skills.
"The more we rehearse, the faster things will flow and the smoother things will flow and we'll identify the errors along the way," Ji said. "We need to do more and more of these things. This is what we do; this is what the Army does. We train to get better."