403rd Civil Affairs Functional Specialty Team conducts Combat Lifesaver Course for Italian partners

By Senior Airman Kirsten Brandes | Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa | Feb. 6, 2019

BASE MILITAR ITALIANO DE SUPPORTE, Djibouti — A team of Army Reserve medics with the 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion Functional Specialty Team, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, conducted a Combat Lifesaver Course for a class of 16 members of the Italian Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri (National Police) on Base Militar Italiano de Supporte, Jan. 14-18.

The 10-lesson Combat Lifesaver Course, designed specifically for non-medical service members, focuses on lifesaving interventions and covers the most common and preventable causes of death on the battlefield, including hemorrhage control, airway management and junctional bleeding.

“I love teaching this class because I’m not always going to be there,” said Sgt. Alana Fleming, a medic with the 403rd CA FXSP. “This is going to be their friend who goes down, and we’re teaching them the skills to save their life until you can reach medical personnel.” 

The course combined traditional classroom instruction with hands-on practice. For some of the students less familiar with English, medical language like tourniquet, nasopharyngeal airway and hemorrhage may have made the course challenging at times, but both the instructors and Italian students worked together to ensure everyone understood. Fleming said classes like this can only serve to improve our relationships with our coalition forces.

“It shows them we care about their well-being and about how we work together,” Fleming said. “We even show them how we would do things if it was just the U.S., so they could know how to assist in a combined operation.”

Capt. Bryan Royal, a physician’s assistant with the 403rd CA FXSP, agreed that the face-to-face time the class provided was incredibly valuable.

“It improves partnership,” he said. “It puts names and faces to allies. We get to know them and realize that people are people and soldiers are soldiers. We all have our weird senses of humor, pull pranks; it humanizes us.”

This course marks the fourth time it has been taught to coalition forces and Royal expects to see it repeated.

“Our team has already been asked to start planning another one for the future,” Royal said. “It would be beneficial to our partnership if we could continue sharing our best practices of point-of-injury care with the Italians and possibly even work on expanding to share with our other allies here in Djibouti.”

As far as the confidence in her students goes, Fleming has no doubt the graduates are capable and well trained.

“Once these guys are done with this class, I can definitely certify that they are going to make a difference,” she said. “They are going to save somebody’s life if it ever came down to it.

The 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion is with the 304th Civil Affairs Brigade, 353rd Civil Affairs Command, U.S. Army Reserve Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command.

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