19 May 2008

PR# 2008-196

ISAF, Afghan medics in life saving mission to suicide bomb victims

KABUL, Afghanistan – In the wake of a suicide bomb attack atrocity in Delaram, Farah province May 15, ISAF and Afghan medics worked hand in hand to urgently deliver life saving medical care to the casualties.

Bost civilian hospital in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, was on standby to receive casualties. Triage teams at the site of the attack allocated the six most severely injured cases to Bost, all requiring surgical treatment. Because time is of the essence in these terrible situations, ISAF offered helicopters to help Afghan authorities to quickly evacuate the casualties.

Three local ambulances and their emergency medical teams waited at the helicopter landing site to take the casualties to the hospital. The ISAF forces at Lashkar Gah mobilised their full medical team of 10 along with 10 field medics from patrol units, prepared to provide emergency trauma care. Additional troops were made available to assist as necessary.

As the first Chinook helicopters approached, a smoke signal fired to show the landing site, and the stretcher bearers rushed forward to carry the patients to the waiting ambulances. Soldiers and Afghan medics worked together to get the casualties loaded into the ambulances within five minutes of landing, for the 15-minute journey to Bost Hospital.

One severely injured casualty needed urgent stabilisation before he could be transferred, and ISAF and Afghan medics worked together for forty minutes to stabilise him in the facilities at Lashkar Gah before declaring him fit for transfer by local ambulance.

Maj Carrick Richards, head of the Lashkar Gah medical facility, said, “We have well rehearsed emergency procedures to deal with this kind of incident and today showed how important those drills are. Speed can be lifesaving, and all the teams worked together extremely professionally to get these victims treated as quickly as possible.”

Sergeant Chantelle Taylor, responsible for organising the casualty evacuation at Lashkar Gah, had only great remarks towards her Afghan colleagues. “The Afghan medics are very adaptable and are great to work with,” she said.

The strong professional ISAF-Afghan relationship has paid once again. ISAF military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Robin Matthews said, “Attacks such as this underline how little regard the insurgents have for Afghan lives, and we utterly condemn the targeting of civilians. Coalition forces are working with the Afghan Government to bring security to the people, and today’s events demonstrate how important our mission here is.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/