BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 20, 2008) – The fight is continual in the Konar province of Afghanistan, so as 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division Soldiers fight in and around the Taliban-infested terrain, Task Force Spader medics are busy fighting a completely different battle… one to help save lives.
“We have unfortunately received quite a few casualties and we’ve also had a few fallen heroes, but the fighting is daily,” said Lt. Timothy Anderson, 1-26 medical officer and Knoxville, Tenn., native.
“I don’t remember a day being here that at least one of our companies within task force Spader hadn’t had some type of enemy attack against them,” Anderson said, “so everyday it’s a potential that we will be conducting some type of evacuation.”
Due to the high kinetic activity in the region, the 1st ID medics must respond quickly when treating the wounded. To ensure they are ready for combat, new medics arriving to the Spader family must pass a series of training events before being pushed out into the battle space.
“For each Soldier coming here we conduct trauma lanes and basically it just gives us as leaders an assessment of their medical reaction skills,” Anderson said. “It’s not that we don’t feel that they’re proficient in their actual skills, but how they will react in a simulated combat environment.”
So far the medics have surpassed their leaders’ expectations, going above and beyond to keep their fellow infantrymen in the fight.
“I only got to the unit two months before we deployed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Lane, 1-26 medic platoon sergeant, and El Paso, Texas, native.
“I was kind of worried that I never really got to train with them and see what they can do,” he said. “But they surprised me, especially our line medics that are out there in the [forward operating bases]. They’re out there alone and they do an outstanding job.”
The line medics cover a lot of ground as they are spread out amongst the 1-26 companies, and they won’t stop at anything to save the lives of their comrades, even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.
“We had a Soldier up at the [Korengal Outpost] and the report I received was as he was injured he was still treating the six other casualties,” Anderson said. “He still stayed with the philosophy of Soldiers first and treated his patients to make sure that they were squared away.”
The Soldiers first philosophy seems to be mutual amongst the Blue Spader medics as a similar incident occurred with Sgt. Reagan Stockman, another forward deployed medic. While conducting a mission with his company, Stockman came under enemy contact and with no regard for his own safety he went out to administer aid to the injured. It wasn’t until every casualty was properly treated that he received any type of care for himself.
“It’s a pattern, we consistently get those same types of reports that that’s how the forward combat medics conduct business,” Anderson said.
Aside from saving Soldiers’ lives, the medics also provide care to the local population, opening their gates to the sick and wounded during daily sick call hours.
“Within our first six weeks here we’ve seen [more than] 750 patients, mainly local nationals and we’ve seen through our aid station here alone probably around 20 or 30 trauma patients,” Lane said.
Medical care doesn’t end there as the medics travel around to the various towns and villages to cater to the medical needs of the community.
In providing care to the infantrymen on the ground and the locals in Konar province, the Blue Spader medics are winning the war, one patient at a time.