THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE, Botswana (Aug. 10, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 909th Forward Surgical Team out of Fort Sheridan, Ill., provided medical training to soldiers of the Botswana Defense Force Aug. 2, in The Republic of Botswana, Africa.
The training is part of Southern Accord 2012, which is a U.S. Africa Command-sponsored, U.S. Army Africa-led combined, joint exercise that brings together U.S. Army personnel with counterparts from the Botswana Defense Force to conduct humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations, peacekeeping operations, aeromedical evacuation, and enhance military capabilities and interoperability.
The 909th Forward Surgical Team is just one of the many units supporting the mission. Maj. John Provenzano, a certified registered nurse anesthetist with the 909th from Chicago, conducted the class which covered the role of an forward surgical teams in the military as well as its capabilities.
"We are the first surgical resuscitation level that any Soldier will see," said Provenzano. "The idea is that patients get to us within that first 'golden hour' of trauma, where we can do the most resuscitation to save their life."
Forward surgical teams are mobile units constructed in a way which allows them to move and follow the combat unit they support. Once on the ground, an forward surgical teams can set up to perform surgery in 20 minutes and can sustain operations with no logistical support for 72 hours. These teams do not provide complete surgical care, but they provide the care necessary to stabilize a patient for transport to a hospital for complete definitive care.
Provenzano also emphasized the importance of using tourniquets on the battlefield.
"If I could put my money on one thing that has saved Soldiers' lives, it's the tourniquet," he said. "If you could take away one thing that you can teach your Soldiers, that's the use of a tourniquet."
Cpl. Itumeleng Matsoga, a corpsman with the Botswana Defense Force since 2004, enjoyed the classes. Matsoga said he was most looking forward to learning more about the medical services throughout the Southern Accord 12 exercise. He plans to take back the information he learned to his soldiers.
"The best part of the training was about the tourniquets and buddy care," Matsoga said. "Every soldier has to take care of their buddies."
The medical training is part of a week-long series of classes conducted by the Botswana Defense Force and U.S. forces, aimed at enhancing the collaboration between the two nations and demonstrating the strong partnership between their militaries.