Marines provide Afghan police with lifesaving techniques

5 Jul 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci

Marines and sailors from the police mentor team, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, convoyed to each Afghan National Police checkpoint surrounding Hazer Joft, July 5, to provide the police with tourniquets, bandages and the combat lifesaving skills.

The Marines with the PMT provide weekly training to the ANP located at the checkpoints and the district governor’s compound in Hazer Joft. Teaching the classes in the extremely cramped buildings where the police officers eat, sleep and relax does not deter their enthusiasm. 

Corpsmen taught the proper use of a tourniquet, pressure dressings and the different types of bleeding during the combat lifesavers course. Officers are immediately given the opportunity to practice the new techniques on each other.  This is the most important part of the training and for most of the officers, their favorite.

“Some of them are really good at it,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary E. Frantz, a corpsman with the police mentor team, 3/1. “Giving them the stuff and actually watching them do it makes them more receptive to it and it sticks more.”

Ultimately the goal is to provide the ANP the basic skills that are necessary for them to sustain themselves. Marines cannot teach them everything they need to know in such a short period of time. Focusing their teaching on bare necessities allows for a quicker impact.     

“We can continue to train them, but the end state being with no Marine mentor involvement, can they do it on their own,” said 1st Lt. Brice C. Turner, the platoon commander and acting team leader in Master Sgt. Jason Cawthons’ absence. “Whether they are receptive or not it just takes more training at the less receptive checkpoints.”

The ANP admires the Marines and aspires to be like them helping the PMT train by example. 

“They just want to fight like us. You will see them walking around and they have their boots bloused, but they don’t know why, and a couple of them have taped flashlights to their rifles because we have flashlights on ours,” said Frantz, 24, from Mattoon, Ill. “I think that as long as we keep putting ourselves out there for them and doing that training for them, they are going to pick it up and put it to good use.”

Officers who have graduated from the police academy are usually the ones who take the training more seriously. Supporting themselves, families and protecting their community makes channeling their priorities during training exercises very difficult for Marines.

Performing the training at the ANP posts allows the team to cater the training to the needs of the police officers that are located there. Training each post commander extensively makes continued application of the skills taught easier.

“It’s more of a ‘train the trainer mentality,’ where the post commander can train his police on how to apply a tourniquet, why you need to apply a pressure dressing instead of a tourniquet to the neck and why not to use a tourniquet as a belt,” said Turner, 24, from Encinitas, Calif. “We teach those lessons so if someone does get hurt around here, the Marines aren’t always going to be there to help out and their not always going to have a corpsman there, they can save each others lives.”

Combat lifesavers course is one of many different types of training provided by the PMT that will help the ANP succeed over time. The quick impact of these short courses builds the knowledge of a greater number of officers in a shorter period of time. 

“They fight just like we do, so it’s good for them to have that training in case any of them get hit,” Frantz said.