By Pfc. Daniel M. Rangel, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentDecember 14, 2007
NANGARHAR, Afghanistan (Dec. 14, 2007) -- "It's a very prestigious thing to be called 'Doc' when you're around people that you work with," said Pfc. Sarah Becker. "It means that they respect you. It's not about the rank; it's about what you can do for them."
Becker is a medic deployed with U.S. Army Europe's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Brigade Combat Team. As part of the company's military police platoon, Becker has spent most of the year gaining the respect of "Sky Soldiers" across Nangarhar province and teaching first aid skills to Afghan National Police officers.
Becker conducted her last class, Dec. 1 in Jalalabad, but estimates she has taught 20 to 30 classes since she's been in Afghanistan.
Her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Victor M. Diaz, said there is such a high demand here for Becker's skills.
"We always get new (ANP officers) coming in, so we're constantly training the new personnel for each situation such as how to give first aid, how to react to contact and so on," Diaz said.
The classes focus on first-responder care. Afghan national security forces are frequently faced with life-or-death situations on the battlefield, and while the classes are focused on battlefield situations, the Afghan Soldiers are encouraged to take what they learn back to their local communities to help with more common health issues.
Diaz had high praise for the private's skills as a trainer.
"She does an outstanding job. She knows what she's doing," Diaz said. "When she gives a class, she goes step by step. She doesn't miss any steps. Soldiers ask her questions and she answers in detail. That's the way that we want her to do it."
Becker's last class focused on having an ANP platoon learn the meaning of the acronym MARCH.
"MARCH is an acronym that one of my senior-ranking NCOs taught me," Becker said. "It stands for Massive hemorrhage, Airway, Respiration, Circulation and Head trauma. It's all things that you can look at in your initial assessment as you're packaging up your casualty to get them on to higher facility care."
Becker's instruction sticks with her students, who practice the techniques she teaches, said ANP 2nd Lt. Abdul Waqaf, an operation team leader.
"We review it with our Soldiers," Waqaf said. "We get a lot of good training from [coalition forces]. If we don't review, then we will not be able to remember."
Becker brings ample combat experience to the job as well. Over the past summer she was attached to the 66th Military Police Company in Camp Torkham, near by the Pakistani border in Nangarhar province. She has been on convoys with the MPs that have been attacked and has treated numerous combat injuries.
"I actually had four traumas that I took care of," Becker said. "They were on different days ... about a week apart."
The life of a combat medic is stressful, the missions are plenty and the hours are long, and when she's not conducting a class or treating injuries, Becker is on security duty alongside the other Soldiers in her platoon. But
Diaz said Becker handles the challenge well and manages to keep up the spirits of the "Sky Soldiers" she works with.
"She's very friendly. She's kind. She likes to work. She's a hard worker," Diaz said. "She's constantly going on missions because she's the only medic we have in the platoon. If we have two missions in one day, she has to go on both missions. We'll come back from one and she'll jump from one vehicle and go into the other. She never complains."