By Army Capt. Marie Orlando
Missouri National Guard
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (5/5/11) – Missouri National Guard Agribusiness Development Team IV Soldiers and Airmen conducting foot patrols have to be prepared to react to unexpected situations each time they go out, and on a recent mission to the Surkh Rod District Agriculture Extension Compound, members of the team encountered one of those circumstances.
While conducting a foot patrol from the Surkh Rod District Agriculture Extension Compound the security force platoon leader noticed a woman hurrying along with an injured infant in her arms.
The child’s legs and buttocks were bright red and blistered and the woman was obviously distressed.
The ADT security force platoon leader, 1st Lt. Miciah Pyatt, quickly decided to have the ADT medic assess the child and provide aid if the woman agreed to the care.
He had the unit interpreter approach the woman and ask what had happened as the interpreter explained that the Team had a medic which could take a look at the child.
The woman said she was trying to get to a medical clinic for emergency care for her baby, which had been burned when she accidently spilled hot chai on the infant.
Pyatt had the patrol return to the office of the Surkh Rod agriculture extension agent, where a desk was quickly cleared and towels were placed under the child so Spc. Thomas Lohmann, a medic, could assess and treat the baby boy, who had second degree burns on his backside from the waist down, along both legs and on both feet.
In the meantime, the woman was apprehensive about entering the office and having her child examined in a room filled with men.
She was reassured by the interpreter telling her, “I am your brother. We are your family here. It is o.k. to be in here with us. We will watch over you and take care of your baby.”
The members of the ADT and others on the mission all responded quickly.
Sgt. 1st Class Dean Travis, of Raymore, Mo., returned to the vehicles to gather the medical aid bag requested by Lohmann.
Staff Sgt. Nancy Lee, a military policeman with Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan, also on the mission with the ADT, joined the small group in the office to reassure the woman and her young daughter.
She assisted in calming the baby and served as extra helping hands to Lohmann.
The young girl was visibly agitated and Staff Sgt. Eli Colson, produced treats from his vest and sent others out for more.
Locals joined the agriculture extension agent in his office to do their best to help the young mother and her family.
Lohmann said he was nervous because it was a burned infant, but it was quickly obvious to him they were second degree burns.
“I knew there wasn’t a lot I could do but I wanted normal saline to wash and cool the area down as well as stopping the burn process,” he said. “I couldn’t do anything for the pain. I flushed it with normal saline, applied triple antibiotic on both legs and feet where the skin was removed.
“There were two large blisters on both buttocks filled with liquid. I told the woman, through the interpreter, to not break the blisters, since they serve to protect the area. I wrapped the burns in gauze and told her she needed to see a doctor.”
“I really wish I could have done more for the pain,” said Lohmann. “I was glad it was only second degree; it was like a bad sunburn with the top layer removed but not any deeper.”
The woman was concerned about her husband’s reaction when he learned of the accident, and she thanked the team for helping her and her son.
The interpreter said the actions of the team will be remembered by the villagers.
“The story of how a military team stopped their mission and took the time to help a young mother and her baby will be passed from house to house and everyone will know the good thing they did for the young mother,” he said.
Upon their return to Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Col. Mike Fortune, commander of the ADT, awarded both Lohmann and Lee the Army Achievement Medal for their professional response to treat the burned child.