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After an Afghan National Army soldier was injured by a an explosion from what fellow soldiers described as a blasting cap-like device, Staff Sgt. Yobany Flores used his linguist’s belt as an improvised tourniquet to stop the bleeding from the soldier’s hand. Flores is a motor transport maintenance advisor to 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps with Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 5. The West New York, N.J. native is on his third deployment to a combat zone, having previously deployed to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2010.

Photo by Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr

Quick on his feet: Marine treats Afghan partner with improvised tourniquet

7 May 2012 | Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr. 1st Marine Division

A loud and familiar crack echoed throughout the confines of Camp Garmsir. 

The sound, akin to that of a short burst from a small arms weapon, put Staff Sgt. Yobany Flores and the rest of his team on alert.

“We were conducting a class on the maintenance lot,” said Flores, the motor transport maintenance advisor to Afghan National Army’s 5th Kandak, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps with the Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 5. “On the road that runs parallel to it, there were three ANA soldiers walking toward their compound.”

As the soldiers continued to walk, something out of the ordinary occurred.

“All of a sudden you hear a big blast, it sounded like somebody shot a weapon,” said Flores, a native of West New York, N.J. “I saw the soldiers, I hear the blast and I see a big cloud of smoke coming from them.”

The ANA soldiers had come across a device that looked similar to a blasting cap. One of the soldiers picked it up and, before he could properly dispose of the device, it exploded in his right hand. 

“I’m walking towards it, trying to see what happened and then I see one individual stumbling around and his buddy trying to talk to him,” said Flores. “As I get closer to him I see that he has blood all over his face, and I move even closer and see that he’s pretty much dripping blood from his hand.”

“It was pretty bad, his hand was split open,” added Flores.

Realizing the severity of the situation, Flores leaped into action to aid the wounded soldier.

“I rushed up to him and told him to sit down,” said Flores. “So he sits down and I see that he’s still dripping a lot of blood, so I call over the radio, I’m still thinking he had gotten shot.”

After calling for medical support and realizing help would not be coming fast enough, Flores was forced to improvise.

“I’m looking at him and he’s still dripping blood so I ask my interpreter for his belt,” said Flores. “I grab my interpreter’s belt and I cinch it down on his upper bicep.”

Using the makeshift tourniquet, Flores was able to stop the bleeding long enough to allow the other ANA soldiers to transport their injured counterpart to the Combat Support Hospital aboard Camp Dwyer. The soldier was later moved to Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital for follow on treatment, where he is currently resting in stable condition after surgery. 

Flores is on his third deployment to a combat zone, to include tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He attributes his decisiveness to training he received prior to his current deployment to southern Helmand province. 

“When you go through the CLS (Combat Lifesaver) course, they teach you a bunch of stuff, one of the first things being to stop the bleeding,” said Flores. “That’s the first thing that came to mind, let’s stop the bleeding. I didn’t have a tourniquet with me, so I just grabbed the belt.”

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1st Marine Division