BNDF learns lifesaving skills
Four service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, recently returned from Burundi where they participated as Tactical Combat Casualty Care course instructors for Burundian National Defense Force combat medics as part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored program.
The BNDF is preparing for an upcoming peacekeeping mission where the lifesaving techniques of the course may become invaluable.
“We are preparing (the BNDF) combat medics to advance their skills to treat casualties in the field,” said U.S. Air Force Captain Sylvia Kim, CJTF-HOA joint medical planner. “The skills we are delivering from this course are essential knowledge we want to arm them with.”
The course is part of a U.S. Department of State initiative to provide African armies an opportunity to partner with American defense forces to develop their peacekeeping skills for operations throughout Africa, according to James Cobb, the U.S. State Department program country manager in Burundi.
“(The program) helps both Americans and Africans,” Cobb said. “It gives us an opportunity to partner together and part of our exchange is we provide them with a baseline of doctrine and information that is NATO-standard and can be applied to all peace support operations on the continent. We serve as a tool to help them train their staff and soldiers to prepare them to deploy to their mission.”
Kim’s team provided two five-day classes that combined lectures and practical exercises. The students learned how to assess and evaluate casualties, airway management, abdominal wounds, hemorrhage dressings, needle decompression, respiratory care and how to use improvised tourniquets.
“We taught them everything from A to Z-type wounds you could encounter in a battlefield environment,” Kim said. “(The training is important) to sustain their fighting force during their deployment, to be trained to medically care for themselves in the deployed environment.”
Another objective of the course was for the BNDF medics to sustain periodic refresher training between themselves, Kim said. Thirteen senior medics and enlisted personnel from the first class attended the second class in a “train-the-trainer” capacity.
“They are quite involved in the practical exercises and adding their input to the lectures in their local dialect,” she said. “The hope is that they will be able to continue training each other.”
Kim and her team enjoyed working with the BNDF and believe the engagement was beneficial for all involved.
“Burundi is a beautiful nation,” Kim said. “(CJTF-HOA) should continue these military-to-military engagements because if no one is here to arm these soldiers with the skills, they will face some difficult challenges in their deployed environment.”