CAP DRAA, Morocco - Soldiers of the 848th For¬ward Surgical Team participating in exercise African Lion 11 organized a rehearsal medical evacuation with the Moroccan military May 8.
Exercise African Lion is a joint exercise involving U.S. Army, Navy and Marines, and the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces that consists of peacekeeping operations, humanitarian civic assistance operations and construction projects.
The rehearsal was part of the 848th’s mission to “conduct level-two care for Marines, the Navy and Soldiers, and to provide trauma support in order to stabilize them, or if unstable to make it possible to move them to a hospital,” said Staff Sgt. Darren Ladouceur, an Army nurse and detachment sergeant of the 848th FST.
“The purpose for the MEDEVAC rehearsal was to get an orientation of a Moroccan helicopter, and to get the Soldiers and medical providers on the ground familiar with the helicopter and how we can load the patient and best organize our medical providers in route,” said the Twinsburg, Ohio, native.
If the case of an injury, the MEDEVAC helicopter would take the casualties to Guelmim, about 200 kilometers from Cap Draa. Guelmim has a military hospital, which employs medical specialists, general surgeons and emergency medical technicians, where they can give anesthesia and perform surgical procedures, said Lt. Col. Ali S. Zaza, a general and trauma surgeon with the 848th FST since 1986, a Syrian-American also serving as an Arabic-English translator in the course of the exercise.
After inspecting the helicopter, a Huey, some Soldiers and Navy personnel took a ride around the surrounding area. Directly after the flight and rehearsal, Zaza and a group of other medical personnel traveled to the nearby Moroccan military base.
“We went to the battalion aid station. They can take care of lacerations, provide immediate treatment of major injuries, and can tracheal incubate. They could administer a lot of medications intravenously for nausea, vomiting, pain, antibiotics and I.V. fluids,” Zaza said. “The battalion aid station has everything you would expect a battalion aid station in the United States to have.”
While inspecting the aid station, Zaza interacted closely with his Moroccan counterparts.
“I enjoyed it. I had a chance to speak to them in Arabic, in many situations where I thought I was help-ful. It was a chance for me to use the language and take a look at the culture,” he said. “The [Moroccan] surgeon here seems to be very knowledgeable. He seems to be very good.”
Zaza, an Army reservist, is a general surgeon as a civilian and has been deployed as an Army surgeon. “I have been deployed four times, twice to Iraq, once to Germany and once to Louisiana,” he said. “The two deployments to Iraq were during combat operations.”
Zaza said his civilian career benefits from his Army experiences because there are various types of injuries in both fields.
“Military injuries from high speed projectiles are always different than civilian trauma situations,” he said. “It [the military] adds to your scope of knowledge and experience.”
So far, exercise African Lion 11 has had no major injuries, but the 848th are vigilant and continue to train just in case.
“The medics on the ground are the first responders ready to help every Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Moroccan military member that may be injured,” Ladouceur said. “It is very important that we stay ready.”