By 1st Lt. Austin Liu, 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery, 35th ADA Brigade Public AffairsMarch 22, 2011
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - Pfc. Ibrahim Ahmed enthusiastically demonstrated to his students how to properly insert the nasopharyngeal airway into an unconscious patient in order to secure open airway.
Ahmed demonstrated on himself first, gently sliding the tube down the nostril.
His students observed attentively, periodically jotting down notes on important points that could be featured on the written exam later that day.
"The advantage of the nasopharyngeal airway or NPA is that it usually does not trigger a gag reflex in the patient." said Ahmed, who serves as assistant medical supply noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Headquarters Battery, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery
Ahmed instructed his students to practice the technique among themselves.
His instruction is part of the required curriculum for the U.S. Army Combat Life Saver Course given to all incoming Soldiers of the 6-52nd ADA Battalion on Suwon Air Base.
However, what is not ordinary about today's course is that all his students are members of the Korean Service Corp, more commonly known as KSC.
"This training [Combat Life Saver Course) is very important for the KSC members because we do not normally learn about paramedic life saving procedures or other advance EMT responses during our normal KSC training," said Kim Pon-yol, a KSC worker who participated in the CLS course.
There are a total of 15 KSC members working for the Iron Horse Battalion at Suwon Air Base.
Over 2,200 KSC members are currently employed by the U.S. military across the peninsula. These dedicated workers provide invaluable logistic support to U.S. commanders during peace time as well as wartime.
"KSC members serve in various positions in support of the daily operation of the U.S. Army in the Republic of Korea," said Mun Tae-yong, the senior KSC member on Suwon Air Base. "We are working alongside U.S. Soldiers and serving as bus drivers, ambulance drivers, painters, carpenters, and even communication support specialists."
Because the KSC is an integral part of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, it is only befitting that KSC members receive the same standard of training as the troops they serve.
One of the most important warrior tasks and drills is the ability to administer first aid and potentially save a life.
For this reason, Ahmed, the primary instructor for the CLS course this morning, explained early on to his students the standard for certification. The students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in maintaining breathing, stopping blood loss, preventing infection, and evacuating the patient - the four key steps to save someone's life on the battlefield.
"Initially, my biggest concern was the language barrier," Ahmed said. "But with the help of the interpreter, the students were able to comprehend and retain the material."
When asked how he knew that the KSC workers are ready for certification, the 19-year-old New Jersey native smiled and confidently replied, "Just watch how proficient they are executing these drills during the hands-on portion of the final exam ... they are just as good as any U.S. students."
Kim Pong-yol, a KSC member working as a painter, carried a simulated unconscious patient utilizing a litter from the classroom to the parking lot outside with the help of another student. He said after the practical exercise, "I have learned a lot this morning and I think all of these skills are necessary for us to be ready for the war if it does break out in the future."