Sarajevo- Being miles away from home in a foreign country is not
a problem for SFOR nations when it comes to watching and taking
care of their troops. But March 16 was a sad day for SFOR and the
Spanish contingent when at 8:30 a.m., a Spanish Guardia Civil vehicle
slipped off the road on its way from Ilidza to Mostar because of
the icy weather conditions. The vehicle turned over several times
before stopping at the end of a four meter deep ravine. Three of
the SFOR Guardia Civil passengers managed to get out of the car
by their own means. Two of them with minor injures were evacuated
by the Spanish NSE (National Support Element) to the Ilidza medical
post, while the other, seriously injured, was taken by a UN vehicle
to the German Hospital in Rajlovac. The accident left a fourth passenger,
a Guardia Civil from the UNited Nations International Police Task
Force trapped inside the car with spine injuries.
The quick response of the ambulance team and the firemen from Rajlovac
proved insufficient, so Multinational Division South East (MND-SE)
was requested to provide a crane and a MEDEVAC helicopter which
moved the injured man to Rajlovac.
Col. Jose Domenech, DACOS OPS, and Spanish Senior Officer at HQ
established a crisis centre in his own office.
1Lt. Mayo from the Spanish Support Unit in Mostar was transported
to Rajlovac to give national aid, and by 17:00 Mayo reported that
the victim might become a quadriplegic. An urgent evacuation to
a hospital with suitable equipment was essential, and time was running
The Spanish General Staff and The Army Operations Centre in Madrid
was requested for the urgent dispatch of a medical plane with the
necessary medical personnel and equipment to evacuated the victim
to Spain. Two planes were put at their disposal - one stationed
in Spain, and the other taken from a mission in Italy. As the second
one was closer to Sarajevo, it was chosen for the transportation.
Co-ordination and synchronisation between the plane and the ambulance
arrival at the airport was essential. A mobile phone network was
established between the airport and the hospital in Rajlovac. Spanish
Maj. Carlos Ysasi from the NAOCC (NATO Air Operations Co-ordination
Centre) in SFOR HQ maintained a hot line with the Spanish Air Force
Operation Center in Madrid.
DACOS OPS requested to keep the airport open until the evacuation
At 02:00. the next morning, the plane took off to Spain, arriving
at 04:30, where the victims wife and closest relatives were
waiting. His condition remains very serious.
While there is an individual and family tragedy at the heart of
this series of events, it also serves as a prime example of multinational
co-operation with an entire network of people working in a tram
to lend support to personnel in difficulty.