Support for lifesaving medical training on Georgia’s mountain frontier

Recently, I traveled to the Republic of Georgia to assist a US Army team working side by side with Georgian military and police. Our first project together was focused on improving potentially lifesaving medical knowledge and skills training for Border Police of Georgia (BPG) officers.

BPG officers practice use of thermal blankets for casualty hypothermia prevention. This is a vital step in providing lifesaving care to a trauma patient, especially in the harsh climate of the Southern Caucasus.
The route to the training brought me and the US Army team through some of Europe’s most beautiful terrain. Here, we are under an arch of melting ice from one of the Southern Caucasus many waterfalls.

Georgia is a nation located in the Southern Caucasus with a population of roughly 3.7 million. Despite violent civil wars following the fall of the Soviet Union, as well as the ongoing foreign occupation brought on by a 2008 invasion of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, the nation’s future, and their partnership with the United States, is full of progress and promise.

Sunset next to the Gergeti Trinity Church alongside Mount Kazbek (16,558 feet) near the Georgia-North Ossetian border

In January 2008, after years of participation in NATO military operations in Afghanistan, Georgia held a national referendum on NATO membership that resulted in 77% voting in favor of joining the alliance. Though not yet a member of NATO today, Georgian institutions and military units continue to work towards full NATO standards and interoperability. The SoA-supported medical training provided by the US Army team marks a small but important part of this process.

BPG officers listen to lessons learned and information about the latest trauma care techniques from a US Army medic. SoA-provided splints and medical blankets sit atop the officers’ desk.
A BPG officer applies an SoA-provided splint on my simulated broken arm.

The training took place outside of Stepantsminda at the base of Mount Kazbek, along the famed Georgian Military Highway that links Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz. During the training, US Army medics exchanged knowledge on critical trauma care skills as they trained beside members of the BPG. The Army refers to these skills as “T-triple C,” or tactical combat casualty care.

The US Army and their BPG colleagues discuss tourniquet application procedures.

In remote areas far from treatment facilities, the correct knowledge and medical equipment can mean the difference between life and death for both the officers and the civilians in the areas they patrol. The SoA donation of emergency blankets and splints will help improve the officers’ already high level of preparedness, and could potentially save lives. The opportunity to support the Army team’s mission in Georgia through SoA’s unique model will have an immediate and long lasting real-world impact.

Here, I’m pictured reviewing plans with the US Army team leader.

Like Americans, the Georgian people are strongly committed to the principles of freedom and liberty. Supporting this valuable exchange between the US Army and the BPG serves as an important step in fortifying and advancing Georgian-American friendship.

A US Army medic taking a minute to make friends with a Georgian local.
With the US Army team brushing up on equestrian skills. ¬¬Horses are still one of the best methods of traversing the mountainous terrain.

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