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Petty Officer 3rd Class Jennifer Ybarra, a hospital corpsman with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward)’s battalion aid station, observes as a member of the 7th Iraqi Army Division’s medical staff practices wrapping an ankle sprain aboard Camp Mejid, Iraq, Aug. 24, 2009. Corpsmen from CLB-7’s BAS have been conducting training with the IA medical staff since the battalion’s arrival in February. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

Corpsmen conduct training to further Iraqi army medical capabilities

6 Sep 2009 | Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

Corpsmen from Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward)’s battalion aid station, have been conducting medical training with the 7th Iraqi Army Division at Camp Mejid, Iraq, the IA base that is located aboard Al Asad Air Base, since the battalion arrived in February 2009.

            Once a week, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jennifer Ybarra and Petty Officer 3rd Class Vincent Hernandez, two hospital corpsmen with CLB-7’s BAS, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Rey De La Cruz, the senior enlisted leader at the BAS, conduct classes with the IA medical staff.

            The purpose for the medical partnership is to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the Iraqi army medical personnel and prepare them for the departure of U.S. forces, said De La Cruz.

            Classes have been taught on a range of topics, such as swine flu, sports injuries, burns, battle wounds, fractures, mass casualty drills and sexually transmitted diseases.

Each training session is conducted in a standard classroom environment using manuals that are translated into Arabic and with the assistance of an Arabic interpreter, who ensures the Iraqi soldiers comprehend the information being presented.

Following the classroom instruction, Iraqi soldiers conduct practical application to make sure they are fully grasping the basic concepts and can also apply it to a real-life situation.

“A lot of times [the Iraqis] will be able to explain to you how to perform a specific task, but when we actually practice the procedure and physically do it, they are not able to perform,” said Ybarra.

Although there are still some areas in need of improvement, the corpsmen said the Iraqi soldiers are making a great deal of progress.

“When we were teaching a class on primary and secondary assessment of a casualty, there was an Iraqi soldier who, we could tell, knew what he was doing and was able to explain each step as he did it,” said De La Cruz.  “We were impressed with all the things he remembered. Those are the guys we really know want to learn and want to do well in this field.”

One of the major points the corpsmen stress to the Iraqis is the importance of having a standard procedure for every situation.

“In the U.S., medical is universal,” De La Cruz said.  “Anywhere you go the procedures will be done almost exactly the same. Here they are each taught a different way of doing things.”

To help the Iraqi soldiers accomplish standard operating medical procedures they are given pamphlets translated into Arabic to keep on file for reference.

            “We hope that as we leave the country, they will be a more organized military and will be able to operate on their own,” said De La Cruz.  “They need to develop a self-dependency as they look to improve their military. Without a good medical system that will be difficult to accomplish.”

            Combat Logistics Battalion 46 intends to continue the medical partnership when CLB-7 completes their deployment.


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