'Wolverine' medics train Afghan counterparts to perform proper lifesaving skills
A soldier from the Afghan National Army practices a buddy carry as his instructor, Pfc. Michelle Shinafelt, observes. The exercise was part of a “train the trainer” combat lifesaver course. Shinafelt, a Florida native, was the primary instructor for the course, which was led by the medics of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo by1st Lt. Ashley Longaker)
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PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Fifteen soldiers from the Afghan National Army and four officers from the Afghan Uniformed Police took part in a combat lifesaver instructor course that was led by the medics of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, also known as the "Wolverine" Battalion.
The course prepared these leaders to return to their units and train their own soldiers on combat life saving procedures necessary to sustain themselves after coalition forces redeploy back to their home stations.
Capt. Jennifer Sherman, the physician assistant for 4-1 BSTB, expressed that she was very pleased with the training as well as the positive effect it will have for the future of Afghanistan.
"We are very excited for this opportunity and proud of the job our medics did as they trained the Afghans," she said. "This will have a long-reaching effect for the Afghan National Security Forces [ANSF] as they prepare to take control over Afghanistan's security and the coalition forces begin their redeployment," said Sherman.
"It will enable them to train themselves and be much more self-sufficient when it comes to medical care," she added.
The CLS course is mandatory training for all soldiers in the U.S. Army. It teaches them how to provide immediate first aid in combat situations, which allows for greater survivability on the battlefield. The ANSF course was designed to be a 'train the trainer' course.
The class was primarily taught by Pfc. Michelle Shinafelt. Though Shinafelt has been in the Army for less than two years, her extensive knowledge as a medic proved to be invaluable. She led the trainees through classroom training to explain the techniques and hands-on activities, where she made sure they had mastered their application.
"First responder medical treatment will improve the chance of casualty survival by 90 percent. The knowledge these trainees gain will lead to saved lives," she said.
After the class learned the basics, they were put to the test on medical training lanes, where they had to treat the injuries of a mock casualty.
Following the lanes, the class was truly put to the test as trainers when each student had to teach a different portion of the material. They were evaluated on their knowledge of the topic as well as their ability to properly explain it to the class.
Sgt. 1st Class Wayne Irion, the medical non-commissioned officer in charge, explained the importance of the course.
"The graduates will deploy back to their home stations across the province and begin to train their units on the techniques and skills they learned here," he said. "The goal is to have 100 percent of all soldiers and patrolmen educated on these basic medical tasks."
The graduates were presented with certificates of training by Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Zedalis of the 4-1 BSTB. Shinafelt was part of the line of officials that shook hands with the graduates as they collected their certificates.
"It was a great experience to pass on our knowledge, and it's exciting to know that it will continue to prepare ANSF long after we leave," Shinafelt said.
The medics will conduct another course in August, and will look to continue training with ANSF throughout the deployment.
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