War on Terrorism

Monday, February 07, 2011

Iowa National Guard medics aid injured Afghan boy

Story by Combined Joint Task Force 101

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (2/7/11) – Medics from Company A, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Lethal, at Combat Outpost Herrera here helped care for and evacuate a Jaji Village boy who fell more than 15 feet from a building and landed on his head.

The boy was brought in stable condition to the aid station with swelling in his neck that interfered with his ability to control his arms.

After assessing that the boy’s injuries posed a risk to his limbs and possibly life, Army Sgt. John Edwards, senior medic at COP Herrera, decided to see the boy after the child had already been seen physicians at the Jaji District Hospital.

The doctors there did not have the capability or equipment to properly help the boy.

“If [a patient] has not been seen at the Jaji District Hospital, [normally] we don't allow them onto the COP,” said Edwards, explaining the medical rules of engagement for U.S. Army medical personnel.

Those rules state coalition forces are not to treat Afghans unless the injury threatens life, limb or eyesight.

Edwards’ actions may have saved the boy from permanent loss of mobility in his arms and even his life.

When word was relayed to Edwards and his team that no air evacuation assets were available due to inclement weather, they realized they were in for a struggle to keep the boy’s vital signs stable until advanced care became available.

They tended the boy through the night, regularly checking his pulse, respiratory rate, blood pressure and ability to move his arms.

Medics even played games with the boy, putting on a puppet show and encouraging him to use his hands and arms to grip a ball. After the boy started to show small signs of improvement.

“He started to get some fine motor function of his left arm,” said Edwards.

But the boy was still far from recovered.

Edwards noted the boy’s arm “pretty much just stayed lying in the same position unless we got him to move it, even then it looked like it took a lot of effort and concentration to do so.”

After daybreak Jan. 29, Edwards and Afghan Uniformed Police Col. Shenwary coordinated to have the Jaji Hospital use their ambulance service to transport the child to a hospital in Gardez City.

“When the ambulance arrived, we put him on the spine board and secured him for the trip down to Gardez,” said Edwards.

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