Djiboutians, U.S. servicemembers facilitate joint medical training seminar

CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti -- Djiboutian military medical professionals joined their Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) counterparts for a week-long medical seminar to share basic lifesaving skills at the Djibouti Ministry of Defense Health Service facility in Djibouti City.

This engagement, which ran July 3 - July 8, focused on how the Djiboutian and U.S militaries practice medicine for their soldiers in a combat environment.

"This seminar instills confidence - not just confidence in the soldier performing the first aid, but confidence that comes from knowing that we're all on the same level with our life saving skills," said U.S. Army Sergeant Joe Timmer, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery.

Timmer, a certified emergency medical technician, said he was wounded while deployed to Iraq and aided by an Iraqi interpreter who had had taken a similar medical course.

The seminar covered clinic operations, preventative health and first responder practices, with the intent to share information with their partner nation militaries.

"We were hoping to learn more about how they conduct operations, the training they receive so that we might gain a better understanding of their experiences," said U.S. Air Force Captain Rebecca Peters, CJTF-HOA joint medical planner.

According to U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Sara Blackman, 1-161 FA physician's assistant, the course covered a variety of scenarios any soldier may someday face.

"There's no particular area of concentration," she said. "We just want to share ideas on how to save a life. This course gives us an idea of what's possible."

Equally important to sharing ideas was taking advantage of an opportunity to further develop the relationship and connection between the two partner nations' militaries for future medical efforts, said one CJTF-HOA officer.

"The students were really interested in the first responder medicine, how to stop bleeding, apply tourniquets, transport patients, among other things," said U.S. Air Force Captain Roberta Krause, 449th Air Expeditionary Wing evacuation liaison officer. "They asked lots of wonderful questions and even showed interest in some of the slower topics such as record keeping and clinic operations."

During breaks, the presenters and students had many chances to interact and take time to learn each other's rank structures and education requirements for promotions and advancements, Blackman explained.

"This class is a good thing and our contact with the Americans is a good thing," said Djibouti Major Said Melo Abaneh, senior instructor and head nurse. "From day one, it's helped us all, the U.S. and Djibouti. Our human contact is important. We hope to continue it."

Aden Hersi, interpreter, said the Djiboutian soldiers appreciated the opportunity to meet with their U.S. counterparts, stating it was good learning and they were impressed with all the different aspects of a hospital corpsman's job.

"They found this class is interesting and beneficial," he said. "Everyone is learning something that may save their lives in the future."