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South Dakota National Guard combat lifesavers train in South America

By 2nd Lt. Chad Carlson | South Dakota National Guard | Dec. 10, 2012

PARAMARIBO, Suriname - The South Dakota National Guard sent three service members to South America on a medical training exchange with service members from South Dakota's partner nation, Suriname.

Lt. Col. Larry Debuhr, medical administrative officer with the South Dakota Air National Guard's 114th Medical Group and South Dakota Army National Guard's Sgt. 1st Class Kelley Crane, combat lifesaver and emergency medical technician, and Staff Sgt. Justin Schiferl, Medical Command readiness noncommissioned officer, conducted combat medical training Nov. 23-25 in Paramaribo with Suriname medics and Soldiers.

South Dakota's service members focused their training on advanced life support, which included self-aid and buddy care, wound care, splinting, shock, airway management, IV application and transport.

"It helped raise awareness of what types of medical treatments are available and potentially introduced them to new first aid techniques," Debuhr said.

Suriname's medical personnel trained National Guard members on treatment using limited and natural resources, which included ‘bush' medical training and techniques used in the jungle environments throughout Suriname.

"You have to adapt to your surroundings and make the best of what you have to work with," Debuhr said.

"They do what they can and work with what they have to make things happen."

"It forced us to step out of our comfort zone and experience different things," Crane said. "Our procedures are more advanced, only because we have access to more training and equipment. Even though it's more difficult for Suriname to get the equipment, it seems as though they excel at survival-type training."

The exchange also emphasized the importance of training on a wide spectrum of topics to include medical maladies that are no longer a concern in the U.S.

"There are many things that are medical concerns in other countries that have been eliminated in the U.S.," Schiferl said. "These items could easily be overlooked or misdiagnosed if they are not considered. By participating in this mission, I was reminded of the importance of a wide scope of operations."

Guard members concluded the exchange by traveling four hours west, to Nickerie, Suriname, where they worked with their counterparts providing medical oversight during National Day ceremonies.

"We were very well-received and feel that our work was appreciated," Debuhr said. "We take for granted in this country too many of the simple amenities. We should be thankful for what we have."