The hour principle

Capt. Benoit Guilloux
First published in
SFOR Informer#144, August 1, 2002

In Podmilacje, near the outskirts of Jajce, the Dutch Battle Group mans a small villa with a team of twelve including a medic team, whose mission is to intervene in case there is an SFOR accident in the vicinity. An infantry team, guarding the villa, also carries out the duties of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF).

Podmilacje - Dutch Medic Staff Sgt. Jan Oevering is the villa commander and chief of the detachment. He explains: "A military patient has the right to have medical help within the hour. We call it the golden hour principle. Our goal is to be at the sight of the accident within an hour hence this place. The purpose of this detachment is to provide this critical service. It would take at least one hour to drive from our base at Bugojno to an accident spot."
Fellow Medic, Sgt. Michel Slot, added: "We stay, most of us, one week in the House Jajce as we now call it. We heard it was previously called Klein Beringen but the sergeant who came from that place back in The Netherlands has been gone now for a long time. Another change is that our Area of Responsibility (AoR) is due to be shortly extended with the departure of the Canadians from Tomislavgrad. So, the villa will soon be manned by elements from Novi Travnik starting August 1."
Operational round the clock
This place has to be operational around the clock explained Slot: "The day shift runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the medics have on call duty throughout the night from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. the following morning, that is when the troop commander and his corporal take over."
Staff Sgt. Lee Pranell, from 44 JWF (Johan Willem Friso) regiment, is Officer in Charge for the platoon. He has nine years of military service; this is his third time in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On all three occasions he was section commander. He likes this command at the villa but admits that he has more freedom of movement when in Bugojno in comparison with his former tours: "It is a major difference in the style of command. I am capable of doing what I am paid for and feel more respect. Our mission is guard duty and to act as QRF."
There are other duties for the troops beside patrolling. Cpl. Bram de Groot assists Pranell: "At night, I either man the operations room from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., or from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., depending on the staff sergeant. In both cases, I write letters, read or do things that I enjoy. It is pretty peaceful around here. It is an opportunity to calm down for a week away from the activities in Bugojno."
Keeping fit
Private David van der Linden is more into fitness during his free time. While lifting weights or doing other excercises, fellow Cpl. Remco Poleij plays some hardcore music. Poleij mentions the marches: "The march with all the gear on, it is quiet stiff." Pranell explained: "I organize a march to keep fit and keep the guys busy. However, we must remain always within a distance of 15 minutes. We march in full combat gear," said Poleij.
Private Jan van Egmond agrees: "It is good energy wise. It is fine to be outside," he said.
Pranell stressed how the job is to be done: "We have to leave the villa within 15 minutes and be within an hour where medical assistance is needed. Only a few days ago, a road traffic accident involving an SFOR vehicle took place nearby. Cpl. De Groot, along with two other men, had to guide the local traffic." There were no casualties, but the SFOR lorry tipped over. The medics did not have to intervene, but they are always prepared to do so. The area is mountainous and the conditions are tough in winter. This is why they also conduct mountain rescue techniques training.
Private Miguel Avends, third medic, rounds it out well: "We make the best out of it really when we are out here."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Netherland
SFOR at Work

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Photo: Capt. Benoit Guilloux

Like his fellow comrades Cpl. Bram de Groot performs security measures upon return from the march.


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Photo: Courtesy of the Dutch Battle Group

A morning delivery is made of the daily bread from the village bakery.


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Photo: Capt. Benoit Guilloux

Members of the infantry platoon, led by Sgt. Lee Pranell, enter the villa compound after their morning march.