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NEWS | Sept. 14, 2010

Guardsmen exchange medical techniques with Congolese counterparts

By Staff Sgt. Kassidy Snyder, Illinois National Guard

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo - About 40 U.S. service members exchanged medical techniques with their Congolese counterparts at the Command and Staff College here as part of MEDFLAG 10.

“We are showing them how we approach patient care, giving them pointers and seeing what we can do to help improve and fine tune their skills,” said Sgt. Stuart Hammer, a combat medic with the North Dakota National Guard's 814th Army Support Medical Company, Detachment 1.

U.S. service members are exchanging medical techniques with the Armed Forces of Democratic Republic of Congo Immediate Response Unit and medics, who are the Congolese military’s first responders to disasters.

“We taught classes on malaria, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, parasites, and hypertension,” all classes related to Africa, said Capt. Itofe-Engulu Desire, a 16-year veteran doctor with the FARDC.

Classes instructed by U.S. service members included arriving to a scene, assessing, treating and then prepping the patients for transport. The 814th brought training aids to include a U.S. Army issued medic bag and moulage, which is mock injuries for a realistic impression of injured patients.

Private 2nd Class Ndalaga-Sango Augustino, a nurse with the FARDC UMIR said the U.S. medics have taught them procedures for evacuation on the battlefield, which was very beneficial and at the same time they taught different techniques for bandaging patients, which was beneficial to the U.S.

“We’ve shared a lot of good ideas and have gotten some techniques from them that I never would have thought of such as different patient carries and bandaging of patients,” said Spc. Ricky Smith, a combat medic with Detachment 1.

All classes are leading up to a mass casualty exercise that will take place Sept. 16, where the FARDC UMIR will demonstrate how they respond in the event of a disaster.

The UMIR’s Company 3 responded to the oil tanker truck that overturned in July and burst into flames killing at least 230 and injuring more than 200 in the eastern Congo. The UMIR would like to show their country the skills they have and with better equipment and trained soldiers they will be able to better treat the local population in the event of a disaster, said Smith.

“In the end, we hope they can gain anything that makes them more adequate at saving lives,” said 1st. Lt. Coty Sicble, a medical administrator with the 814th based in Bismarck.