Tue, Jun

Empowering Afghan medics


ANA-medics-training-1A team of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Sangin district, ‎Helmand, is busy training Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) medics. The ‎team’s job is to prepare their Afghan counterparts to perform their tasks ‎independently.‎

‎“Nobody cares about what you know until they know that you care,” said Lieutenant ‎James Nicholson, Afghan National Army 215th Corps medical advisor with Security ‎Force Assistance Advisor Team (SFAAT). He often congratulates the Afghan medics ‎on a job well done with a handshake and hug after successfully treating a patient. ‎‎“One of the things we do is providing them with the continued support and ‎recognition of what they do on a day-to-day basis.”‎
The team of soldiers arrived during the fall of 2013 and have been building the ‎working relationship ever since.‎
‎“When we first got here, we didn’t know what to expect. They were testing their ‎boundaries on the things they could do with us and how they were going to react with ‎us. After we opened up to them and gave them our friendship, they gave us their ‎friendship in return, and we just gelled together,” said David Morales, another ‎SFAAT member.‎
Once the relationship was established, the next step for the team was to advise and ‎prepare them to provide self-sustaining medical care. After several months of training ‎and advising, the soldiers feel the medics are not only capable, but confident in their ‎own abilities.‎
‎“When we first got here, they would come down and call us for every emergency they ‎had, even minor lacerations. They would call me for everything,” said Morales. ‎‎“We’ve mentored them so well, to this point the only thing they call us for now is ‎category ‘A’ patients. They take care of the others all by themselves and do their own ‎evacuations. So I’ve seen them grow a lot.”‎ANA-medics-training-2
One of the strategies the team leans on the most is allowing the Afghans to come up ‎with their own solutions. The soldiers have found that by allowing the Afghans to ‎adapt and overcome on their own they are becoming more independent.‎
‎“The ANA tend to be incredibly resourceful,” said Lt Nicholson. “A lot of the times ‎we don’t interfere and allow them to come up with their own solutions. These ‎solutions are long-term and sustainable. Every time they do an excellent job.”‎
With the “no-interference” stance, the team makes judgments on when to help and ‎how much help to give, depending on if it is really needed.‎
The team continues to visit the ANA medics daily to offer advice and friendship and ‎is determined to ensure they are ready for fully independent medical care, without ‎coalition forces.‎
‎“I am real impressed from the day we got here to where they’re at today. It’s like 100 ‎percent better,” said Morales.‎