The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) personnel from all over Kandahar province spent the day safely loading each other onto and off of a Cessna airplane at Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak.
This was part of medical evacuation training provided by ISAF’s medical personnel. The training allowed the ANSF soldiers and police to broaden their MEDEVAC skills and become less reliant on U.S. MEDEVACs.
“What we’re trying to do is transition from U.S. MEDEVAC to Afghan MEDEVAC,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Mustain. “This mission is part of the medical train, advise and assist, and it’s really our focus right now.”
The first part of the training consisted of basic combat lifesaver refresher training completely run by Afghan soldiers. An Afghan flight medic served as the subject matter expert and taught the refresher course to nearly 20 ANSF personnel.
The ANSF personnel are already well versed in CASEVAC, which is evacuating a casualty using a ground vehicle, and giving aid at the point of injury. Task Force Gryphon trainers said introducing aerial assets for MEDEVAC will provide the ANSF with the missing link to complete the chain in casualty field care.
Staff Sgt Mustain explained that the ANSF used their own aerial assets by learning how to safely load and unload wounded personnel onto a Cessna 208 airplane. First they load them onto the plane with the engines off, which they call cold load training. Then they do the same thing with the engines running, called hot load training.
“The hot loading is the run portion of the training, and we’ll be moving at combat speed. So the cold load training gets them ready for the hot load training, and the hot load training prepares them for a real life scenario,” Staff Sgt Mustain said.
The Cessna is a good medium for the ANSF to use because of its economical and versatile characteristics.
“The 208 Cessna is fuel efficient. It can change from CASEVAC to passenger, to cargo,” said Maj. Todd Abshire, a pilot serving with the 441st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron.
Arming the ANSF with medical training is particularly important to Staff Sgt Mustain. He has seen them grow from the very beginnings of first aid, to watching them learn how to perform their own MEDEVACs.
“It’s been quite a ride for me. This is my fourth tour in Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s been interesting to see them graduate from just trying to do first aid, to seeing them do surgery on their own guys, and now MEDEVAC. It’s really satisfying to finally close the loop and finish what we started.”