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Friday, May 11, 2007

Iraqi Troops Train for Mass Casualties

U.S. Army instructs Iraqi army on dealing with injuries in the theater.

By Sgt. Michael Tuttle
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

KIRKUK, Iraq, May 9, 2007 — The sound of emergency sirens streaked through the K-1 Iraqi Army Base as fire trucks and ambulances, escorted by military vehicles, rushed outside the base to respond to a simulated catastrophic event with massive casualties.

The recent massive casualty, or MASCAL, training exercise was a joint effort between the Iraqi army and medical personnel along with U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division soldiers from nearby Forward Operating Base Warrior.

In addition to providing urgent medical care to actors playing wounded patients on the ground, the responders had to deal with the real-world risks of operating outside the security of the base.

Iraqi and U.S. military trucks formed a secure perimeter around the site, and Iraqi medical personnel hustled to the scattered wounded to evaluate their injuries. The wounded lay on the rocky dirt dressed in moulage, rubber “wounds” and makeup, worn to simulate bleeding and other injuries.

The casualties were evaluated, transported to triage, by stretcher if necessary, and evacuated to the appropriate medical facility for treatment. Depending on the seriousness of their injury, arrangements were made to transport the casualties to the K-1 medical clinic, FOB Warrior, or a Kirkuk hospital.

“Coordinating and communicating with all of the elements involved added to the complexity of the exercise,” said 1st Lt. Ranston Harvey, the training exercise coordinator.

“When the alert (of the incident) was made, we had to simultaneously notify FOB Warrior, K-1, the hospital and the supporting services. Everyone had to work together and maintain communication to keep up with what was happening so they could react and coordinate their response.”

The 3rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team from FOB Warrior has conducted several MASCAL exercises at K-1. After evaluating previous exercises, it was determined that additional support was needed.

“We looked at past MASCALs and the (K-1 medical) clinic staff was doing too many jobs,” Harvey said. “So we contacted the K-1 firefighters and security forces to help.”

Officials at the K-1 medical clinic said the exercise demonstrated that their medics and the Iraqi army were ready to react to the real thing.

“Everyone got there quickly, picked up the casualties and got them to where they needed to be treated,” said Sgt. Mohammed Abbas, one of the first responders and a first aid instructor at K-1. “Everyone responded very well.”

Photo Caption: Iraqi medics wrap a splint around an injured soldier’s broken leg during a massive casualty training exercise in Kirkuk. Personnel from the K-1 Iraqi Army Base participated in the exercise with U.S. Army 25th Infantry Division soldiers from nearby Forward Operating Base Warrior. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Tuttle.

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