Ugandans Get Medical Care during Natural Fire 10

By Schultz, Corey | Warrior - Citizen, Winter 2010 | Go to article overview

Ugandans Get Medical Care during Natural Fire 10


Schultz, Corey, Warrior - Citizen


KITGUM, Uganda - Army Reserve Soldiers from across the United States were in northern Uganda working in an exercise with U.S. Army Africa and five East African nations to improve disaster management response and provide medical care.

During exercise Natural Fire 10, Oct. 15-25, 2009, personnel from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and the U.S. set up an operating base in Kitgum, about 200 miles north of Lake Victoria. Here they trained and worked together on a humanitarian assistance mission. The exercise included practicing responses to disaster relief such as convoy operations, crowd control, weapons handling, and vehicle checkpoints. Also, medical, civil affairs, and construction personnel traveled daily into the communities.

The Army Reserve played an important role in the exercise, providing all the aircraft as well as civil affairs, force protection, and medical care for both U.S. Soldiers and Ugandan citizens.

Soldiers of the 11th Theater Aviation Commands Company D, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, primarily from Louisville, Ky. and Olathe, Kan., provided all the air mobility for Natural Fire 10.

They operated three CH-47 Chinook helicopters and two C-12 turboprop planes.

The Army Reserve aviators flew personnel and cargo back and forth daily and also conducted sling load training in Kitgum. They provided crucial rapid transit from the staging area in Entebbe out to the field. On Oct. 15, Chinooks carried about 200 personnel from Entebbe to Kitgum, saving almost 10 hours that would have otherwise been spent on the road. On Oct. 21, they were again called upon for a critical mission: medevac for a seriously injured Ugandan Soldier.

The Soldier had been working at a construction site when a steel beam fell 20 feet and struck him on the head. 1st. Lt. Matthew Boyer, 629th Forward Surgical Team, Columbus, Ohio, was the medical officer in charge at the scene and arranged for the injured man to be treated.

"That's what we do, save life, limb, and eyesight," said Maj. Scott Armen, a surgeon from Gainesville, FIa., who led the team assessing and stabilizing the injured Ugandan.

The pilots and crew of Co. D spun up a Chinook and the Soldier was flown to a Kampala hospital within about 90 minutes. Without the Chinook, it would have been an eight- to 10-hour drive over rough dirt roads, which the patient may not have survived.

Medical personnel from the 7225th Medical Detachment, Greenville, S.C., provided care for local Ugandans. They set up at the Pajimo Medical Clinic outside of Kitgum and worked side by side with their U.S. Navy, Ugandan, and Tanzanian counterparts, treating more than 500 patients per day. The team included doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants, and medics. They provided medical, dental, optometry, and pharmacy services and even had a psychological nurse, Lt. Col. Jimmy Paulk, who counseled victims of domestic violence and persons with psychological problems. …

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