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Coalition medical team saving lives in Uruzgan

US Army Specialist Leroy Granado, a combat medic with 56th Infantry Bridgade Combat Team, monitors the breathing of a wounded Afghan National Army soldier in the intensive care unit at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot.
US Army Specialist Leroy Granado, a combat medic with 56th Infantry Bridgade Combat Team, monitors the breathing of a wounded Afghan National Army soldier in the intensive care unit at Multi National Base - Tarin Kot.

A Coalition team of United States and Australian medical specialists are saving lives every day in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan.

Thirty nine personnel from the US Navy, US Air Force, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force are working together to provide medical care to military and civilian casualties, including Coalition and Afghan soldiers, policemen, local residents and insurgents wounded in battle.

In late February, the Tarin Kot Role 2 hospital staff performed life saving treatment on an Afghan National Army soldier who sustained extreme facial injuries from an insurgent-laid Improvised Explosive Device.

US Navy Commander Michael Lavor, Officer Commanding of the Role 2 facility, said the wounds were potentially fatal.

“It was classified as a Category Alpha (CAT A), which is the most severe type of injury. The patient arrived via helicopter; he was picked up by our ambulance and then rushed into our trauma bay. In this case there was a major laceration and fracture in the jaw, caused by a bullet lodged in the left lower area. The patient was intubated to protect the airway, the wounds were irrigated, inspected manually and the bullet was removed before the lacerations were sewn up,” Commander Lavor said.

The patient was then taken from the operating room to the intensive care unit for stabilisation and subsequent aero medical evacuation to the Afghan government operated Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital (KRMH).

“The patient will receive further surgical treatment in Kandahar where Afghan physicians will wire his fractured jaw. The chance for recovery is very good for him,” Commander Lavor said.

The mortality rate of casualties is highest from the time of injury through until medical evacuation, but if a casualty is brought to the Role 2 or the KRMH, their chance of survival is 98%.

“Once a patient comes through our door, it makes no difference if they are Afghan National Army, special forces, regular army, or even an insurgent; they will receive the same level of medical care and survival rate. It’s been an honour to work with this team,” Commander Lavor said.

The purpose of the Role 2 is to receive, stabilise and control major injuries before preparation and transportation to tertiary facilities. The team includes surgeons, medics, pathologists, nursing officers, physiotherapists and x-ray specialists.

US Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Black said the team is incredibly skilled and experienced.

“Whenever a patient comes in, we have a systematic approach that we go through to try and locate any injuries that are going to be the most likely things to kill them quickly and then we intervene in those processes,” Lieutenant Commander Black said.

“Once this particular patient came in, we checked for any life threatening injuries, we examined his body from head to toe, cleaned up the wounds on his face and removed the foreign bodies due to the blast,” he said.

Royal Australian Air Force Pathologist Flight Lieutenant Helen Webb said all areas of medical expertise assist in the survival of each patient.

“We are working very well together, when this particular patient came in we ran a trauma panel, we did blood typing in case he needed a transfusion, we did blood gases and basic coagulation pathology. We all do as much as we can for the patient,” Flight Lieutenant Webb said.