By Staff Sgt. Tanya Thomas, 4th AAB, 3rd IDFebruary 2, 2011
CAMP ALI, Iraq -- Doctor Ahmed Abdul Aziz and his staff treat about 400 patients per day at the Al Ramadi General Hospital in Iraq.
"Some patients come in for an illness, but most are trauma victims," he said.
Faced with a shortage of medical equipment, and therefore a high mortality rate, Aziz and about 20 Iraqi doctors learned alternative methods to treat their patients, and ultimately help save lives, Jan. 26-27, during a training course taught by United States Division-Center medical personnel at Camp Ali, Iraq.
"They care about their patients, but they just couldn't take care of them with the lack of equipment," said Capt. Amy Rezak, trauma surgeon with the 402nd Forward Surgical Team, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, USD-C. "But, there are simple treatments that can be done that don't require fancy medical equipment."
Rezak and five other 4th AAB, 3rd ID, USD-C surgeons and physicians taught the Iraqi doctors valuable lifesaving skills through lectures and hands-on stations during the two-day class.
Rezak, a Reserve Soldier who teaches surgery at Harvard University, said she developed this course because she wanted to provide Iraqi doctors with the same knowledge as the students she teaches back home.
"I thought maybe we could do the same thing here," she said. "Hold some courses and hopefully benefit their trauma patients, and at the same time, possibly learn from their experiences."
The Iraqi doctors practiced critical skills like suturing, placement of chest tubes, management of airways, radiology and ultrasounds.
"We had a great turnout," said Capt. Joseph Roarty, surgeon with 4th AAB, 3rd ID, USD-C and an instructor of the Iraqi trauma course. "They were very enthusiastic and appreciative of this training. Although violence has decreased (in Iraq) they deal with, on a daily basis, victims from not only violent attacks, but also incidents like car accidents. It's very important for them to be able to handle these skills. We hope that this training helps them with their care for their patients. "
Roarty said he also hopes the Iraqi doctors take this knowledge and pass it on to the next generation of doctors.
"I think that's the best gift that we can give the country of Iraq," Roarty said. "Our mission here in Iraq is to help the future sustainability of the country, so I think that events like this, that bring physicians together and give them knowledge and skills they can build on and share with others is something ultimately sustainable for them. I'm personally dedicated to that."