MONROVIA, Liberia — There would be no questions on this test.
Within minutes of completing two days of rigorous training in Liberia taught by medics from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, 23 Armed Forces of Liberia medical technicians were put to the test Feb. 8 when they responded to a high-speed vehicle roll-over.
Outside the gate to the remote military barracks where the eight USAFE medics were conducting medical training for the AFL, a single vehicle had veered off the road, ejecting the driver from the vehicle.
Immediately, a nurse, medical technician and seven USAFE medics left for the scene. For the victims of this accident, that day was their lucky day. Leading the response team was Dr. (Maj.) Kimberly Pietszak, the only physician within 30 miles of the scene. Ramstein-based Airmen that were also on the scene were Senior Master Sgt. Daryl Webb, Master Sgt. Randall Ivory and Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Burrell.
Upon the medic's arrival, patients were quickly assessed and triaged: there were four victims in all, including the driver who had been ejected from the vehicle. Before departing with the first patient for the hospital, the nurse called for additional assistance.
That assistance came from the only place it could: the new AFL medical technician students who had completed patient assessment and treatment exams only a few minutes earlier. These students, who had learned how to quickly treat and transport victims of trauma, would not have to wait until the weekend or beyond: they were going to use their new skills then to help save lives.
Six students were assigned to assist at the scene and within minutes were providing care to the injured. They took vital signs, helped secure a patient to a spine board and led a litter team loading a patient into the ambulance. Within 20 minutes the remaining medics rushed to the hospital with the remaining victims, a litter patient and two ambulatory patients.
"They performed magnificently," said Lt. Col. Stephen Sales, 435th Air Base Wing director of staff and deployed team chief. "Their performance is a testament both to their dedication to learn and to the skill of their instructors."
For Pietszak, the opportunity to help in a capacity beyond that of a trainer was especially meaningful.
"It is a once in a lifetime experience to be in another country training military medics but it is an even more rewarding experience to also have the chance to offer needed medical care to the citizens of the country," she said.