Polish and U.S. medical teams train together

Master Sgt. D. Keith Johnson
First published in
SFOR Informer#165, September, 2003

One of the leftovers from the Bosnian war is the unexploded ordnance still scattered throughout the countryside. A lot is marked, but most is not. If someone is injured in a minefield, military medical crews throughout the Multinational Brigade (North) respond to the scene. To be prepared, these crews spend a lot of time performing training exercises.

Doboj - One such exercise took place between the 86th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) and members of the Polish Contingent the week of July 21. It was a combined air and ground training exercise for the crews. Members of a squad were “injured” when they entered a minefield. The POLCON responded with medics who reached the "victims" and stabilized any injuries. An 86th Dustoff helicopter was called in and the "victims" were extracted from the minefield using a jungle penetrator.
Maj. John Johnston, commander of the 86th, said the training was two-fold. "It also allowed the Polish contingent to exercise the nine-line format to get the launching of a MEDEVAC to aid a soldier in need in the Doboj area," said Johnston. Sgt. Richard Maye, a flight medic from Moriah, N.Y., was one of the U.S. members involved in the training. "The training was really useful," commented Maye.
The 86th carries out training exercises four or five times a month, but this is the first with the jungle penetrator outside of Eagle Base, according to Maye. "This gives them an experience with an air asset," he said.
Unusual participant
One unexpected participant was Task Force Medical Eagle X-ray technician Staff Sgt. Malgorzata Polewczynska otherwise known as Staff Sgt. P. An X-ray technician is not one of the usual specialties involved with minefield extractions, but as her name may suggest Polewczynska is not originally from the USA. Though now a resident of Tacoma, Washington, she moved from Poland in 1987, and joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1990. "We had to overcome language barriers," said Maye. "Staff Sgt. P was a very valuable asset." "Communication between U.S. and Polish forces is always a challenge," Johnston added.
The training went very well and both the U.S. and Polish medical personnel agreed with Polewczynska when she remarked that, "We need more of these type of exercises."

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: US, Poland

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Photo: Spc John C. Graves

Flight medic Sgt Richard Maye and a simulated casualty are lifted into a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter during a minefield extraction excercise.