By Spc. Kandi Huggins, 1st AATF PAO, 1st inf. Div., USD-NJune 1, 2011
KIRKUK TRAINING CENTER, Iraq - In an effort to continue building on medical knowledge, the Kirkuk Combined Security Forces conducted an air medevac exercise at the Kirkuk Training Center, May 25.
"Thunderhorse" medics of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, guided Iraqi students on proper evacuation steps and medical treatment.
CSF soldiers familiarized themselves with the steps necessary to transfer a patient to higher levels of care using a helicopter, said Spc. Jose Amezquita, a health care specialist assigned to 2nd Bn., 12th Cav. Regt.
During the medical course, the fourth cycle led by Thunderhorse medics, instructors continued building upon basics of medical training to provide Iraqi Security Forces with trained personnel capable of teaching subsequent classes of CSF soldiers.
Eventually, Iraqis will train themselves without assistance or supervision from U.S. forces, said Amezquita, a native of Killeen, Texas.
"We're trying to be hands off so they can be the primary instructors for the medevac training," said Amezquita. "With them being the instructors and having gone through the training, they'll be able to ensure they have a better understanding of the procedures and requirements to ensure everything runs smoothly."
Prior to the medevac class, most CSF soldiers had limited exposure to medical operations utilizing helicopters.
"Today we're going to evaluate how well they practice commands," explained Amezquita. "They will be putting a casualty onto a litter, loading the casualty on the helicopter and unloading the casualty and carrying (the patient) to the rally point."
To help things run smoothly, Sgt. Mike Schutte, a flight medic with 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation Battalion, Nebraska National Guard, conducted a safety briefing to prevent any accidents during the medevac training.
Schutte, a native of Lincoln, Neb., said practicing good safety habits is paramount to the training for CSF soldiers.
"The purpose of medevac is to get the troops in need where they need to go as quickly as possible," said Schutte. "One slip-up can cause them to hurt themselves, and that will potentially make them another casualty."
CSF teams commenced the exercise by loading their casualty onto a static helicopter to familiarize themselves with fundamentals of loading before moving onto operations with a running helicopter.
As the training progressed, new CSF soldiers and Gen. Kawa, Iraqi Police Chief, Kirkuk province, observed the event along with U.S. instructors evaluating the trainees' performance.
"Thank you and I really appreciate your hard work," said Kawa to the instructors. "The knowledge they've gained helps everybody, because they can transfer it to all soldiers and teach other students in the future."
Amezquita said as the CSF students continue the course, they will eventually be certified on emergency medical skills and expand their realm of knowledge.