|The Afghan Air Force Mi-17 team lands at the Helo pad for MEDEVAC on Camp Zafar July 12. (Navy photo by Lt. Michael Hart)
HERAT, Afghanistan — Helicopter blades ripped through the afternoon sky July 12 as the ever first fully Afghan-led medical evacuation was conducted by the 207th Afghan National Army Corps at Camp Zafar in western Afghanistan.
The "nine-line”— a military term for information used for a MEDEVAC request, including information such as location, number of patients, special equipment needed, etc.—came in mid-morning. In less than an hour, the Afghan Air Force Mi-17 team would be landing carrying two patients—one with a leg/foot injury and one with a previous surgical case that needed follow-up care.
This MEDEVAC also happened to coincide with transition events happening in Herat on July 21.
"Want it or not, it is happening [the transition],” said Dr. (Col.) Sayed Azim Hossany, director, Herat Regional Medical Center. "It is time for all of the ANA to step up and be ready to take action all the time.”
Mentors from the Joint Medical Operations Cell took great pride in developing the MEDEVAC procedure and the training for the hospital staff. U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Hart developed the program, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. William "Bill” Risenhoover took charge of operations. Navy Capt. Christopher Kushner led medical direction.
"We are very lucky to have mentors who are so knowledgeable,” said Dr. Azim. "With the training and guidance from the JMOC, we were able to make the MEDEVAC program a success.”
The 207th Corps has an eight-soldier security detail on standby around-the-clock daily for incoming MEDEVACS. Once the detail receives word of an inbound helicopter, it goes out to the landing pad at Camp Zafar to sweep and secure the area. After that, the ambulances and ANA medics stage themselves and prepare for incoming patients.
Upon landing, the patients are unloaded and carefully placed in an ambulance, then driven to the hospital where they are triaged.
Herat Regional Medical Center's main body of patients are the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and Afghan Border patrol. If a civilian, woman, or child is flown in, they are transported to another hospital downtown for care.
Despite the ongoing success of the MEDEVAC operation, there are still challenges to address. Hospital beds and staff remain in short supply, and there only four beds in the intensive care unit. The completion of a new hospital wing is almost complete, however, which will nearly double the number of patients the hospital can serve.
By Tech Sgt. Samara Scott
RSC-West Public Affairs/NTM-A Public Affairs