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Coalition forces train ‘critical’ Afghan combat medics

By None , ISAF Public Affairs Office

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Nov. 14, 2010 — 116547-w608.jpg

Soldiers assigned to the Afghan National Army 215th Corps respond to a simulated casualty during a combat medic course scenario at the Joint Security Academy Southwest in Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. (Photo by Technical Sergeant Pedro M. Jimenez.)

KABUL, Afghanistan (Nov. 9) — With the combat medic course in Kabul now turned over to the Afghan National Security Force early October, several coalition medical advisors have moved to a new program, tackling the need for medical development in Helmand province.

The advisors received the mission to train combat medics for the 215th Corps and established a course at Camp Leatherneck.

“Combat medics in Afghanistan are very, very critical. The ANA needs them desperately and it is our job to mentor and to train these future medics in all the skills that we have,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Yencarelli, a hospital corpsman, U.S. Navy Corpsman and lead instructor at the combat medic course in Camp Leatherneck.

The intense eight-week curriculum focuses on initial battlefield care and combines classroom course work with hands-on instruction. Students learn how to stop bleeding, insert breathing tubes and intravenous lines, and transport the wounded to higher levels of treatment or care.

“We start with the basics of anatomy and physiology, just learning things like how many bones are in the body. We start with the basic foundation and build upon it,” said Yencarelli during a class. “Right now we’re into shock, hemorrhage control, the critical pressure points so they know where and how to stop bleeding. We do quick emergency tourniquet drills as well as other no-notice drills with these guys all the time.”

The instructors and students are helping establish medical resources where none existed. They are working hard to provide the ANA a medical resource in the combat environment.

“From day one, when we first met these guys, I told them you’re special. I expect you to set the example in everything, from marching to hygiene. I told them they would be revered and respected in a different way,” said Yencarelli. “Hey, I’m a medic I carry myself a little differently, it doesn’t make me better – just makes me different and there’s pride in that.”

According to one instructor, U.S. Army Spc. Clarence Nelson, having a direct hand in the first Helmand province combat medic course is very exciting and fulfilling for him and the entire instructor team.

“Initial treatment is always very important, especially in combat situations,” said Nelson. “I’m helping people stay alive. It’s a good opportunity to teach and receive the experience, especially as a young soldier”

The mentors hope the ultimately promote the growth and professionalism of the ANA’s road to self-sufficiency.

“I hope the work I do here, training these guys, is enough that I don’t have to come back here. They will take over and run this course themselves in their language – Afghans teaching Afghans,” said Yencarelli. “One of my greatest fulfillments will be seeing them graduate in a few more weeks. My mission will then be complete and I’ll have done my part in serving my country and serving the people of Afghanistan.”