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Dec 17 2020

Joining hands to save lives at the enhanced Forward Presence in Lithuania

RUKLA, Lithuania — The medical personnel of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) showcase their skills during an exercise in Lithuania. German rescue forces work hand in hand with their comrades from Norway, France and the Netherlands. The particular difficulty of this exercise is that 20 casualties need to be treated simultaneously. Medical life-saving measures will not succeed unless all nations work closely together.

SOURCE: Bundeswehr

Aid must be delivered quickly 

Exercise scenario: The rescue forces need to size up the situation first. 

The medical forces of the eFP are alerted by radio. The exercise scenario: A simulated enemy artillery attack has left a number of soldiers wounded. Medical assistance is urgently required. The rescue forces quickly don their body armour, load their weapons and drive off in their armoured vehicles. A Dutch and a Norwegian rescue team are the first to arrive at the incident site. The air is filled with thick smoke as the medics jump out of their vehicles. Cries for help can be heard from everywhere. The medics now need to quickly size up the situation and locate the casualties.

Coordinated assistance

A German medic checks the vital signs of an injured Dutch soldier.

A few moments later, four German armoured Boxer rescue vehicles arrive at the incident site. Each vehicle has a crew of three consisting of the driver, the commander and an independent medic or emergency physician. Fitted with a 720-hp engine and an all-wheel drive system, the Boxer vehicle can navigate rugged terrain and drive up directly to the casualties. “When driving, I pay particular attention to getting my crew and the patients not only quickly, but also safely to their destination,” says Corporal Sebastian R. Upon arrival, the German soldiers are immediately welcomed by their Norwegian comrades and briefed on the situation. For ease of communication between the four nations, English is used. After the briefing, the German rescue teams fan out to attend to the wounded. Based on the severity of their wounds, casualties are placed into one of three categories and treated accordingly.

Together, quickly and safely

An armoured Boxer vehicle offers space for up to three lying or seven sitting patients.

Following initial life-saving measures, the injured soldiers have to be transported to a mobile aid station to receive medical treatment. Rescue and medical personnel prepare the wounded for transportation to the vehicles. Whoever is available, be it a medic, a physician, a driver or patients with only slight injuries, helps to bring the severely wounded to the vehicles. “One, two, three, lift,” a medic instructs his two comrades. In order to safely evacuate wounded soldiers from the danger zone, the stretcher needs to be lifted in unison. With joint forces, German and Norwegian medics carry a wounded soldier to the rescue vehicles. The Boxer rescue vehicles are used for the onward transport of the wounded. The interior of the vehicles, which measure eight metres in length and almost three-and-a-half metres in width, offers enough space for the safe transport and en-route medical treatment of the wounded soldiers.

Operations can be performed without a problem

Major Amalie K. and her assistant wear body armour even when inside the operating container.

As soon as the Boxer arrives at the mobile aid station, the vehicles back gate drops and the independent medic jumps out. He immediately begins handing the patient over to the station chief, Lieutenant Colonel Michael G. They discuss the patient’s injuries, medical treatment provided and whether medication has already been administered.
“Stretcher team, over here!” calls Michael G. “The first patient has a blunt abdominal trauma. He must be taken to the treatment room immediately,” says the Lieutenant Colonel. The stretcher team takes over the wounded Dutch soldier and with quick steps transports him to the treatment room. There, Major Amalie K. is waiting together with her assistant. The focus of her work is the treatment of all severely injured patients. More often than not, this involves surgery. As soon as the patient has been placed on the operating table, she begins preparations for surgery. Even though they are wearing battle dress uniform and body armour, the doctor and her assistant perform all steps with dexterity. They form a unit. Even though the situation is tense, both stay calm and focus on treating their patient.

Multinational teamwork saves lives

The wounded are taken to a nearby hospital for further medical treatment. 

Both slightly and severely injured comrades have received treatment; nobody’s life is in danger any longer. This is, however, not the end of the medical evacuation chain. The wounded are taken to a nearby hospital for further medical treatment. In this task, the nations also support each other.

“Everybody here knows how to provide the right medical treatment. What matters today is to make things work in a multinational team, and those involved in the exercise have impressively demonstrated that they are able to do that,” says the physician responsible for the exercise. The individual soldiers can only rely on an effective multinational medical evacuation chain if such challenging exercise scenarios are practised regularly.

Story by Sascha Klenk

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