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LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Air Force Capt. Mohammed Fuad (left), a physician’s assistant with the Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team from Long Island City, N.Y., and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin from Altoona, Iowa, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, remove loose skin from the burns on the leg of Kamela, a 3-year-old local Afghan girl Dec. 16 on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin cut a square piece of bandage from a section of petroleum gauze, while U.S. Army Spc. John Goebel held the outstretched bandage firmly in his hands here Dec. 16.



The two Iowa National Guard combat medics with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, were treating burn wounds to Kamela, a 3-year-old Afghan girl from the village of Alishang. The medics, beginning the third month of a year-long deployment to Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam in Laghman Province, have been treating Kamela for two weeks for second-degree burns spanning from her waist to her right leg and foot.

“If we didn’t treat her, these wounds would probably end up killing her,” said Voegtlin, who lives in Altoona, Iowa. “She would get an infection from dirt in the burn, which could potentially be mortal.”

The medics treated Kamela every day for the first week and now see her every other day. They wash the wounds with sterile soap and water, cut off the dead tissue from her burned areas, administer antibiotic cream to the burns and then replace her old bandages with fresh ones. They said the wounds are painful, but they expect Kamela to heal fully, minus a few scars.

The medics said they try their best to reduce the pain and comfort Kamela when treating her burns. Due to the number of nerve endings around the burns, Voegtlin said any change in temperature is extremely painful to the child. The medics administer pain medicine to Kamela to help ease the pain of the treatments, as well as multivitamins to help her heal faster. They said they are also teaching Kamela’s father how to care for her so he can eventually do it all himself.

Voeghtlin does not like that the girl cries every time she sees her, but it is all in a day’s work for the medics.

“She’s so adorable; I just wished she liked me!” Voegtlin laughed.

Goebel, who lives in Washington, Iowa, said his job in Afghanistan is worlds apart from his occupation back in Iowa, where he works on computer systems for the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.

He said he originally enlisted in the National Guard as a radio operator/maintainer, but his unit was being mobilized and did not have any slots for communications Soldiers. They did, however, need medics and though he had knowledge in computers and communications equipment, Goebel said he was up for the challenge of learning to be a medic. He completed his medical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and joined the aid station team for this deployment.

This is the first deployment for 30-year-old Goebel, who has been in the Army for two years.

Goebel said, like in his civilian life, he maintains the aid station’s computers. He also ensures the water on the base is suitable for showering, adding chlorine to the tanks. But besides that, his day is largely working in his assigned job as a medic.

Voegtlin, a paramedic with the Des Moines, Iowa, fire department in the civilian sector, said her civilian job in the United States is similar to what she does as a medic in Afghanistan, but there are still many differences.

“I worked in a pediatric emergency room for a while as a paramedic, and I’m used to being able to communicate with the kids and saying, ‘This isn’t going to hurt, no owie,’” she said. “It’s different when you can communicate with a child and say ‘OK, we’re going to give you a shot, and it’s going to feel like a bee sting, but it’s not going to hurt,’ and then they’re prepared for it.”

She also said the types of treatment she administers here is different than those she did for the Des Moines fire department.

“There, a pretty typical call would be cardiacs, difficulty breathing, seizures, diabetes and things like that,” Voegtlin said. “Here, I’m learning about dermatology, suturing and performing almost at the level of a physician ... it’s pretty fantastic.”

This is the third deployment for 31-year-old Voegtlin, an 11-year veteran of the National Guard. On her last deployment, to Iraq, Voegtlin served as a flight medic. She volunteered for this deployment, which gives her the opportunity to serve as the noncommissioned officer in charge of the HHC, 1st Bn., 133rd Inf. Regt. aid station.

The aid station operates 24 hours a day, with eight medics working at the station, as well as a laboratory technician, doctor and a physician’s assistant. Additionally, Voegtlin said medics from the aid station are serving with line units at other FOBs and combat outposts throughout the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division’s area of operation in Afghanistan.

Even though the deployment brings new challenges to the medics, both said they feel satisfaction from the work they are doing here, such as treating Kamela.

“The best thing here is being here and learning stuff,” Goebel said. “I like that I can help people. I like knowing if the guy next to me goes dLAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, applies fresh bandages to an Afghan girl after treating her burn wounds to her waist, left leg and foot Dec. 16 here at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Voegtlin, a paramedic in civilian life with the Des Moines, Iowa, fire department, who lives in Altoona, Iowa, said she is learning new medical techniques and treatments this deployment. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)own, now I can help to keep him alive.”LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin (left), a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, holds a piece of medical gauze cut by U.S. Army Spc. John Goebel, also a combat medic with HHC, 1st Bn., 133rd Inf. Regt., Dec. 16 here at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Voegtlin, from Altoona, Iowa, and Goebel, from Washington, Iowa, are entering the third month of a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin (left), a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, applies fresh bandages to Kamela, a 3-year-old Afghan girl, after treating her for burn wounds to her waist, left leg and foot Dec. 16 here at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Voegtlin, who is a paramedic in civilian life with the Des Moines, Iowa, fire department, and lives in Altoona, Iowa, said she is learning new medical techniques and treatments this deployment. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Voegtlin, a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, gives a doll to Kamela, a 3-year-old Afghan girl, after treating her burn wounds to her waist, left leg and foot Dec. 16 on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam. Voegtlin, who is a paramedic in civilian life with the Des Moines, Iowa, fire department, and lives in Altoona, Iowa, said she is learning new medical techniques and treatments this deployment. (Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Matson, Task Force Red Bulls Public Affairs)

 

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 December 2010 01:19
 

    

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