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Medical Training Center Opens Up Opportunities

By Staff Sgt. Victoria Meyer, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

KABUL, Afghanistan, Aug. 12, 2005 – The Afghan National Army's first military medical education center opened recently here with the help of the ANA Surgeon General's office and the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A ceremonial guard stands tall in front of the Afghan National Army's new military medical training center before the recent grand opening ceremony. The new center will consolidate the medical training for ANA combat medics, nurses, medical faculty and medical officers. Photo by Staff Sgt. Victoria Meyer, USAF

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Located on the National Military Hospital campus here, the center will consolidate medical training for ANA combat medics, nurses, medical faculty and medical officers. The facility can accommodate, house and feed up to 500 students and has 27 classrooms.

Before the new facility, medical training was conducted in various locations around Kabul such as the Kabul Military Training Center, the military hospital and the Pol-e-Charkhi garrison.

"This is a much better learning environment for the students," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Luis Montes, combat medic in OSCA's medical plans and operations section. "They have everything they need on the campus of the National Military Hospital. The students have professional instructors and will be able to receive instruction within the hospital from the physicians and nurses."

With the opening of the new education and training center, the ANA is better equipped and more prepared for its medical mission.

"We can provide the ANA the best equipment, supplies and medications, but if they are not trained to use them, it will be a wasted effort," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jose Betancourt, former section chief.

The center originally consisted of two separate Soviet-built structures from the 1970s. OSCA medical section leaders determined it would be more cost effective to renovate them instead of starting from scratch. A local construction company remodeled and refurbished the new building at a cost of almost $500,000.

"Taking what was once a battered and beaten up building and turning it into a quality education center is a great representation of the mission and the people who will work here," said Air Force Maj. Gen. John Brennan, OSCA chief.

Combat medic students are the first to occupy the building. They will go through a six-week training course to learn the medical skills they need in a field environment.

Throughout the course, the students will learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administer IVs, treat battle wounds, and perform field sanitation, preventive medicine and emergency medicine.

"We believe the building will enable the ANA to dramatically improve its combat medic training by co-locating the training at the hub of their medical system," said Army Lt. Col. Thomas Paul, medical plans and operations chief.

Besides the convenience of having everything needed in one building, the Afghan army also has a large military hospital just steps away.

"They can work on their clinical and medical skills in the hospital, which will make them better qualified as medical professionals," Montes said.

"I look forward to this medical training facility producing well-trained and skilled medics for the Afghan National Army," Brennan said at the grand opening of the center. "It will open the door of opportunity for many of your young men and women-an opportunity to serve the people of the new Afghanistan and help rebuild this great nation."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Victoria Meyer is assigned to the Office of Security Cooperation Afghanistan Public Affairs Office.)

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