By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army AfricaJanuary 11, 2010
RABAT, Morocco - A U.S. Army Africa medical team spent a week sharing casualty evacuation procedures with members of the Moroccan military.
The program was billed as a military familiarization event, but felt more like a conference where ideas were exchanged, said Maj. James Hayes, 41, from Thief River Falls, Minn., a medical service corps officer assigned to USARAF's surgeon's office.
"We went through the level of care from the place of injury to the battalion aid station, then how they are evacuated through each step from the medical company to the combat support hospital," Hayes said.
The weeklong program, which wrapped up Dec. 5, was planned through the U.S. Embassy in Morocco and coordinated through U.S. Africa Command, USARAF's higher headquarters.
Discussions revolved around roles of medical care, Hayes said.
Once injured Soldiers leave the theater they go to the fourth stage of care, which in the case of the U.S. Army operating in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia means medical evacuation to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. The fifth stage of care is at a hospital back in the States, Hayes explained.
The U.S. and Moroccan medical officers also discussed the ways casualties are evacuated, from ground ambulances to helicopters and also non-standard evacuations in vehicles not normally used as ambulances.
The Moroccan officers were interested in the level of training enlisted U.S. medics undergo and the amount of care they are able to offer to injured troops, said Maj. Lee Clark, 43, of Charleston, SC.
The Moroccan military showed that they have both training and experience in the medical field, Clark said.
In 2003, Morocco hosted MEDFLAG a joint medical exercise. Their medics currently support U.N. operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo. One Moroccan officer explained how he recently returned from U.S. Army patient administration and medical logistics courses at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Tex. In the future, Moroccan medics would fit well into joint missions, Clark said.
"They are a mature partner and would compliment our medical assets in any partnership we do together," Clark said.
There were also cultural exchanges that built upon the professional partnership building.
At lunch, the Moroccans treated the U.S. officers to traditional food, to include "cous cous," a Moroccan delicacy popular with the local people.
"Each day, we had a three course meal with different Moroccan dishes," Hayes said. "That was very interesting."
Translators helped during the talks, taking ideas from English to French and Arabic - spoken by the Moroccans. A few understood English. Despite the language difference, the medical officers found common bonds as they discussed their profession.
"We meshed very well," Clark said. "By the end of the week, we were sitting around and chatting with friends."