Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)
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U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)
Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)
U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)
An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)
U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)
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Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)
NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It was an early morning in western Nuristan Province at Forward Operating Base Kalagush. This small coalition outpost is home to the Nuristan Provincial Reconstruction Team and Company C, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.
Hazarat traveled north to the American outpost from Lowkar Village with his son Ramal. The toddler has burns on both feet from a spilt tea kettle and there is no Afghan hospital in the province. There are good Afghan hospitals in the region but, like many Afghans who come to the base, he cannot afford to go to the hospital in Jalalabad in Nangarhar Province. He hoped to see American doctors who might treat his son.
But at FOB Kalagush, the first medical provider an Afghan sees is Habib Khan, an Afghan National Army noncommissioned officer and a medic from Kunar Province. The Nuristan PRT medical team has been training Khan in clinical duties for several months. He is up to the challenge.
“Sgt. Khan is a good student and learns pretty quickly,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Joy Lewis, a corpsman from Copperas Cove, Texas. “Once you show him something, he can do it by himself.”
The gates of the FOB had just opened, but Ramal wasn’t Khan’s first patient of the day. He met the father and son and listened. He looked down at the dirty bandages. He heard the story about the accident from two weeks earlier and of burns that wouldn’t heal.
Treating a child’s burns was not something Khan learned in the four days of medical training he received before coming to FOB Kalagush – skills critical in treating wounds on the battlefield. But medicine is much more than just combat life saving and Khan wants to learn as much as possible.
“Khan is genuine and passionate and doesn’t require a lot of supervision,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve David, corpsman from Bronx, N.Y. “He only asks for help when something is outside his scope of practice.”
He did not ask for help verbally. He turned to his American colleagues and smiled a smile that said, “I don’t want to make a mistake here, so if you wouldn’t mind, just a little more instruction please.”
Khan’s prior training prepared him for common battlefield injuries that taught him how to control heavy bleeding and give IV fluids to his fellow ANA soldiers; important skills for a combat medic to know, but this partnership helps him help more of his people.
“Here I am learning about headaches and body pain and changing dressings for deep cuts and burns,” said Khan. “I am very happy and thankful for (the PRT) to make it possible for me to learn.”
Little Ramal needed to have the bandages changed and they stuck to his skin. The boy whimpered, but didn’t cry. Lewis showed Khan how to use sterile water to help remove the old bandages. She completed the first foot then it was Khan’s turn on the second foot. He took the scissors and went to work.
“He assesses the patients, does an initial physical examination, and comes up with a treatment plan,” said Dr. (U.S. Navy Cmdr.) Harold Groff, PRT medical provider from San Diego, Calif. “We observe him and it seems that with every patient he learns something new.”
This clinical experience not only benefitted the Afghan men, women and children who travel to this tiny, remote clinic desperately seeking care. Khan’s training benefits his unit both on and off the battlefield.
“He does sick call at the ANA compound all by himself,” said Lewis.
The enlisted medics assigned to Kalagush heaped praise on Khan’s work ethic and eagerness learn. But the soldier with two years of experience who joined to be a medic was characteristically humble.
“I appreciate their patience because I am asking many questions,” Khan said. “They always answer all of my questions.”
Fortunately, Ramal’s wounds were not infected and with proper care, should heal well. Hazarat was given instructions on how to properly care for his son, some cream to help with pain management and clean materials to change the bandages. He was thankful for the treatment his son got at the American clinic, but he knew an Afghan soldier helped his little Ramal.
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