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AAF help lift patients
Afghan Air Force aircrew members watch as peers practice litter carries onto an Mi-17 helicopter on Nov. 20, 2012 the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport. Afghan Air Force, U.S. Air Force and other Coalition Forces members spent three days teaching basic medical training, medical and causality evacuation procedures to AAF flight engineers, pilots and aerial gunners. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn)
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Afghan aircrew better prepared to save lives

Posted 12/3/2012   Updated 12/3/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Melissa K. Mekpongsatorn
438th Air Expeditionary Wing

12/3/2012 - KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan medics spent three days with Afghan Air Force pilots, flight engineers and aerial gunners to improve their basic medical skills and casualty evacuation procedures. The Afghan medics were assisted by U.S., French, Czech, Croatian and Hungarian service members at the Kabul, Afghanistan, International Airport Nov. 18-20.

More than once, Afghan aircrew members have found themselves in the back of an aircraft with injured Afghan service members or passengers, some severely so. The aircrew was in the right position to help these patients get through the flight to medical care, but they didn't have some of the basic skills to help. During the three days of training students learned such skills as proper patient loading and unloading techniques on the Mi-17 and Mi-35 helicopters and classroom and hands on training of tourniquet, sling and bandage applications.

Members from the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, AAF Kabul medical facility, and the French Medical Regiment at the KAIA Role 3 hospital worked alongside aircrew members from the Czech Republic, Croatia, and Hungary, who brought their real-world experiences to the training. The basic medical skills' training was led by AAF medics.

"This training given by Afghans for Afghans, bridged a noticeable gap in communication and knowledge of support elements between the AAF medical and rotary wing units, which is key to the sustainment of their current life-saving capabilities as Coalition troops reduce their presence here in Afghanistan over the next few years," said U.S Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Hanlon, 438th AEAS aerial gunner.

The AAF medics, led by AAF Chief Flight Surgeon Col. Tooryalay (Shahsawar Qurasishi), began each of the three days by providing classroom instruction. This was followed by some basic hands-on training.

"This training is very important, when we fly we are always in danger. I believe everyone should have this training," said AAF 2nd Lt. Amani Habibullah, 377th Rotary Wing Squadron pilot.

The skills that they were taught in the classroom were first put to a test during a simulated blood loss scenario led by Hanlon. Following that, the students went to the flight line to learn about patient transportation.

On the flightline, the aircrew were taught how to load and unload patients properly into the back of an Mi-17 helicopter and practice what they learned.

In addition to the medical skills learned by the aircrew, the training helped establish a relationship between the AAF medical and rotary wing units.

"Synergy between these two vital pillars of the AAF will enable an Afghan organic casualty evacuation capability," said Tech. Sgt. Will Stimpson, 438th AEAS aerial gunner.

The importance of this training has been recognized by the AAF flying and medical communities, and they have taken it upon themselves to make this training an annual requirement.

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