In northern Guatemala, a US Army team trains a small search-and-rescue unit on proper medical aid techniques for soldiers and locals hit by landmines near the Mexican border. These units conduct foot patrols and provide humanitarian and disaster relief to mitigate the effects of natural and man-made disasters in the region. While on patrol, they encounter many medical emergencies, such as sucking chest wounds, and injuries that require a tourniquet. However, these units often do not possess the proper skill set needed to assist.
After an assessment of the Jungle Brigade, the Army team identified a lack of training, equipment, and supplies that were necessary to handle these medical emergencies as high priority issues. When the Brigade conducts their patrols, primarily along remote and lightly traveled routes, they are often without communications coverage and evacuation vehicles should they need them. Additionally, the routes they cover are not well-traveled. Because of these limitations, it’s even more important that these units are equipped to stabilize casualties for extended periods of time until help arrives.
The Army team identified the need for 20 individualized first aid kits (IFAKs), and three fully-stocked medic aid bags for the Guatemalan soldiers to take on long patrols. They are also in need of basic medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), Imodium, antibiotics, and other medicines needed to treat more serious medical complaints. Additionally, the medics do not currently attend any recurrent medical training to maintain their skills. A subject matter expert exchange will be conducted by the US forces for the search-and-rescue unit to validate the training and provide a new skill set that will be used on the patrols.
This project will be the first of its kind in the area. To date, there has not been a donation or training program conducted with these small units. The medical equipment and training would ensure that the US partner force has all the tools needed in their fight against drug trafficking organizations and other criminal networks operating in the area. A small donation can go a long way to help save lives.