KABUL, Afghanistan — Ten Afghan National Army flight medics and one flight nurse did hands-on training in a C-130H Hercules at Hamid Karzai International Airport here July 9.
The day started with reconfiguring the cargo compartment from netted seating to metal stanchions that hold stretchers for a medical evacuation, or medevac, flight.
The Train, Advise, Assist Command – Air advisers host weekly training with the Afghan flight medics with assistance of U.S. Air Force aeromedical evacuation subject matter experts, such as Master Sgt. Matthew Scott, an emergency room manager from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, who is currently the senior enlisted adviser at the nearby NATO clinic in Kabul.
“I am in their country and I am not telling them how they need to do something,” the Indiana-native said. “I’m just pointing out a way to do something the U.S. has been perfecting for years, and how to be safe and keep their patients safe as well. I really enjoy the feeling when the information we are teaching ‘clicks’ and they understand the importance of what we are telling them.”
Scott said most of the time the new medics will sit back and watch while the experienced medics do everything.
“We are working to get the young medics involved and get them [participating]so they can assist the experienced medics and soon do it by themselves,” Scott said. “The Afghan flight medics are the ‘cream of the crop,’ and we are trying to instill that pride and teamwork into them. There are a very select few who get to do that job, the same within the [U.S. Air Force], so we want them to have that same swagger and pride.”
The Afghan medics receive basic medical training through the National Medical Hospital, and the TAAC-Air advisers provide additional instruction to hone skills and teach new techniques. The goal is to build a formal sustainment training plan.
In a recent AE evaluation, along with inflight observations, it was evident basic patient movement fundamentals needed some refresher, said Col. (Dr.) Sarady Tan, TAAC-Air command surgeon general from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
“I believe the training is better indoctrinated when verbal instruction is in conjunction with hands-on experience,” the Oregon-native said. “Although the Afghan’s medevac and AE system are still growing, they are able to accomplish a complex mission in support of the [Afghan National Defense Security Force].”
The Afghan AF has come a long way from zero personnel, resources and capability in 2009, to be a lead agent for all fixed wing medevac missions as of January 2013, Tan said.
“I’m on the ground floor developing the foundation for a robust AAF medical service,” he said. “[I get to] generate and sustain the human weapon system for the AAF in support of ANDSF and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”
Coalition forces work every day with their Afghan counterparts to forge a professional and capable aviation force. The ANA flight nurse, 1st Lt. [first name withheld]Parwiez, sees this as valuable training for his fellow medical professionals.
“It’s better to have all the medics do the physical [hands-on] training on the aircraft,” Parweiz said through an interpreter. “[My team] likes this training a lot. It makes us better.”
Scott agrees the training is beneficial to the Afghans and said it’s rewarding to him as well. He was in Kabul in 2011 and is now back for another go at making a difference in people’s lives here.
“I love doing this … Too often we all come here to do a job but never let the people know [back home]what kind of difference we are actually making in this country and in the lives of the people we interact with,” he said. “The sky is the limit for these medics and they will continue to get better and learn. I am just proud to be a part of a cause that is making a difference for this country and cementing the fact that other military may not have to come here if the job I do is efficient.”
Article by Capt. Edith Sakura
438th Air Expeditionary Wing
Above: Master Sgt. Matthew Scott (left) points out to an Afghan National Army flight medic the importance of measurement and balance in the metal stanchions in the back of a C-130H Hercules at Hamid Karzai International Airport, July 9, 2015. Scott is an aeromedical evacuation technician and emergency room manager at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., who is currently the senior enlisted adviser at the nearby NATO clinic in Kabul. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Eydie Sakura/released)