Provider medics teach Iraqi officers combat medicine

Story and photo by Spc. Michael V. Camacho
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CAMP TAJI, Iraq — U.S. military medics held a three-day class in first aid and combat medical assessment for Iraqi Army medical officers, starting Jan. 12 at Camp Taji, Iraq.

This marks the first comprehensive medical response training the Iraqi Army officers have had in years, said Maj. Christy Allen, medical operations officer with the 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). It took roughly two months to coordinate all the groups involved, using visual learning aids written in English and Arabic to bring the officers up to date on combat-lifesaving techniques, she said.

The three-day course focused on combat medical procedures to stabilize injured Soldiers so they can be transported to a medical facility to receive proper treatment, said Col. Mark Brewer, brigade surgeon with the 96th Sust. Bde.

The U.S. Army medics' lectures were translated and explained in detail by Iraqi Army Maj. Adnan Naji, a senior medical officer and commander of the Taji Location Command Medical Clinic Level 2, said Allen.

"Once the language barrier and the comfort level were established, then the class became much more interactive," said Allen.

The course featured an in-depth approach to promote greater retention of the learned material, said Brewer. The Iraqis were eager to learn and participated readily in the classes, he said.

"Several years ago, they had some lectures but not a hands-on class," said Brewer, an Aurora, Colo., native. "They need to get their hands dirty and practice what we're teaching them."

Iraqi medical training is not at the level it should be, he said. The U.S.-directed classes are intended to change that and give the Iraqis medical experience and expertise similar to that of U.S. Soldiers, said Brewer.

This type of training is vital to help increase the survival rate of combat-injured service members, said Brewer.

Naji, a Baghdad native, said he had two major priorities for his staff during this training. First, he said, his medics should be trained to use the supplies and equipment they have on hand in Taji. Naji said he also aimed to refresh and improve the life-saving techniques of his medical staff.

The three-day class includes instruction on the proper use of medical equipment, said Staff Sgt. Michael Carlson, a medic with the 1161st Transportation Company Task Force, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sust. Bde., 13th SC(E). With this knowledge, they can continue to train and update one another, he said.

"We've just begun training with the Iraqis," said Carlson, a Yakima, Wash., native. "They would be considered to be at a paramedic-trained level with the training they have received prior. It makes them more trauma-based as far as the things they're going to face as they repatriate their own country."

The Iraqi officers all have prior medical experience, primarily with the Ministry of Health in Iraq, said Spc. Christopher Graham, a brigade medic and health specialist with the 96th Sust. Bde. This training reinforced what they already knew and gave them a deeper understanding of medical treatment for combat and trauma injuries, he said.

"It gives them a real world application on how you actually do these procedures on people who are injured in combat," said Graham, a Pleasant Grove, Utah, native. "It brings them up to date."


news photo
Spc. Christopher Graham, a brigade medic and health specialist with the 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), and a Pleasant Grove, Utah, native, assists Iraqi medical officers with the use and application of a tourniquet. Graham was an instructor teaching combat medical procedures to staff members Jan. 12 through Jan. 14 at Taji Location Command Medical Clinic level 2 at Camp Taji, Iraq.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Michael Camacho)