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An Iraqi border police officer (left) applies a tourniquet to the arm of an Iraqi fireman during a first aid class taught by Marines and sailors with the Trebil Port of Entry Transition Team Oct. 11. Trebil is located in western al-Anbar province on Iraq's border with Jordan.::r::::n::

Photo by Capt. Paul L. Greenberg

Trebil Transition Team trains the trainers

13 Oct 2008 | Capt. Paul Greenberg

Marines and sailors from the Trebil Port of Entry Transition Team  worked with their Iraqi counterparts Oct. 11 to develop fundamental first aid skills for the Iraqi troops manning the border port here.

The students were a mix of Iraqi firemen, commandos and customs police. As representatives of their respective agency, they will take back the skills they learned to serve as instructors themselves in the classic “train the trainer” concept that is being implemented by Coalition forces throughout Iraq.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Uldarico Apan, 29, of Bremerton, Wash. is the POETT’s, corpsman.  Apan explained that the bandaging, wrapping and splinting techniques he taught are most relevant to the kinds of emergencies that the Iraqi border personnel may face due to realistic occupational hazards here. 

“There is always the possibility of an insurgent attack here, but we’re most worried about accidents such as people falling from trucks or having their foot run over by warehouse or commercial vehicles during inspections,” said Apan, who plans to conduct follow-on training on the treatment of burns and head wounds.

 Sgt. Victor F. Virgen, the 24-year-old POETT maintenance chief and resident of Solvang, Calif., assisted Apan with the hands-on practical application portion of the training. 

Virgen, who is beginning his third tour in Iraq, explained that the real focus of the training is giving the Iraqis the mental preparedness and knowledge to be able to act quickly and take necessary steps to keep their injured comrades alive until they can get to a hospital.

“They picked it up a lot faster than most Marines do going through first aid training the first time,” remarked Virgen.  “These are just simple things they can do to help their friends, family and co-workers survive an accident.  They were really on the ball with wraps, splinting and positioning of bandages.  These guys just really enjoy learning.”

Warrant Officer Sarmad Laiek Saleah, an Iraqi fire department supervisor, expressed the vital importance of this training for first responders like the men he leads.

“Because (firemen) are so very few, we need more knowledge about first aid to help the people we evacuate from accident scenes.  I can be both a practitioner and a supervisor,” said Saleah through an interpreter.

Saleah’s main challenge, at present, revolves around his lack of vital equipment, which he submitted a request to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior for last year.  With only one antiquated fire truck and no ambulances, heavy machinery or fire retardant protective equipment, he is doing the best thing he can with the resources he has.  He is training his people.

“Our job as firemen is simple,” said Saleah.  “It is to help human beings and save lives.”


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