BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN — As the United States military’s role in Afghanistan transitioned from Operation Enduring Freedom to the Resolute Support mission, the number of U.S. Forces dwindled with the Afghan National Security Forces taking the lead to secure the Afghan people.
The U.S. forces will now focus on a train, advise and assist role meaning that the need for so many troops in country is far less. But what does that mean for the thousands of civilian contractors that are working on the military bases across Afghanistan.
Combat Life Saver training is basic first responder medical assistance that is taught to soldiers of all levels throughout their military careers, and with fewer soldiers on bases in Afghanistan there is a greater need for civilian contractors to learn the skills.
Staff Sgt. Adam Small, a health care specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade has spent the last few weeks providing training to civilian contractors and soldiers from the Army Field Support Battalion–Afghanistan.
“With less military and more contractors on Bagram Airfield, today’s training can give civilians the confidence to not need the military to take care of everything,” Small said. “Instead of waiting for a medic or CLS certified soldier to take the lead in an event that has casualties, the civilians can have the confidence to act on their own.”
With the warmer than usual climate in Afghanistan this winter, the fighting season has been extended which has seen an increased threat of indirect-fire attacks on bases.
“The training today was to ensure that civilians felt confident enough to render first aid treatment to the two most common types of injuries associated with (indirect fire), extremity hemorrhaging and open chest wounds,” Small said. “We also covered a couple of types of emergencies that might occur in which clearing and opening an airway would be needed as well as a brief refresher on CPR.”
As a medic in the military with multiple deployments under his belt, Small has welcomed a change of pace during this recent deployment working in numerous jobs throughout the brigade footprint, but is always ready when called on for his medical expertise.
“Working as everything except a medic has been fun and interesting at times, but at the end of the day, being a medic is what I love to do. And the fact that my medic skills are being used to teach rather than to save a life or treat a friend, is even better,” he said.
Susan K. Repon, is a civilian contractor working as a quality assurance specialist with the sustainment battalion, and has had prior training as a State of Washington Health Care Assistant, holds a CPR certification, and while in Kabul, took the extended Combat Life Saver training course but was still very appreciative of the class.
“I feel confident I have the skills to aid someone as a first responder if necessary. The training received at the 401st (battalion) was a wonderful opportunity to practice my skills, learn new skills and terminology, and to open the conversation of first-responder techniques with my fellow co-workers,” Repon said.
Small said the best thing about being a medic is when, as a noncommissioned officer, he gets the chance to train soldiers and civilians alike by sharing his military experiences and expertise with them.
“Knowing that I have helped train and instill confidence in these civilians makes me feel proud. Part of what I love about being a medic, and an NCO for that matter, is the training of soldiers. Instilling something that I have learned, either by classroom, or by real life experiences, is always a good thing,” Small said. “Having people to assist me would allow me to treat more than if I was by myself.”