War on Terrorism

Thursday, December 31, 2009

U.S. Air Force Medical Personnel Train Iraqi Counterparts

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Allison Boehm
Special to American Forces Press Service

Dec. 31, 2009 - Members of the U.S. Air Force Theater Hospital here are training Iraqi defense ministry medical personnel as part of the new American-Iraqi Air Medical Evacuation and Medical Provider Training Course. The training enables Iraqis to study burn care as well as to observe and practice proper medical evacuation techniques.

Classes are scheduled every two weeks. Topics vary to achieve the goal of helping the Iraqi Ministry of Defense strengthen its military medical program.

"The ultimate goal of this military-military medical capacity-building program is to help establish an Iraqi military air medical evacuation program with trained flight surgeons, flight nurses and medevac technicians," said Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Hoettels, a 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group civil-military operations officer.

The training program was requested by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense surgeon general. It supports the overall effort to responsibly drawdown U.S. forces from Iraq.

The two-day course began Dec. 21, 2009, at the al-Muthana Military Hospital, where four Iraqi medical evacuation technicians loaded a patient with a simulated fractured leg bone. The group of medical professionals traveled to the U.S. military hospital at Balad.

At Joint Base Balad's hospital, the Iraqis received educational briefings and took part in some hands-on medical training.

Eleven Iraqi medical personnel observed real burn victims and watched as an occupational therapist demonstrated how to properly splint a burn fracture.

The purpose of the training program is to enable Iraqi military health care providers to obtain "medical sovereignty," said Air Force Col. Andy Marchiando, commander of the 332nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron.

The Iraqis will be able to take the information they learn "and carry it on once we leave," Marchiando said.

(Air Force Airman 1st Class Allison Boehm serves with 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.)

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