TAKEO, Cambodia –
U.S. Navy undersea medical specialists taught basic life support techniques to Cambodian deminers June 22 as part of Pacific Partnership 2014.
The training was in support of the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation's efforts to address critical shortfalls in heavily-mine impacted countries across the globe.
Nine students took part in the training in a small classroom at the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), which is in charge of all mine action in Cambodia.
"The diving program started about two years ago," said Robert Rice, the chief of underwater operations for Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. "We saw a need to teach the CMAC deminers how to dive for ordnance to help alleviate the problem of leftover ordinance in Cambodia from the Vietnam War."
The foundation is teaming up with Pacific Partnership medical specialists to teach the deminers how to operate independently should any work-related injuries occur.
"There is a gap in medical skills and basic life saving skills so that's why we are here," said U.S. Capt. Kirk Eichenmuller, an undersea medical specialist. "We are not looking at advanced tools or medications, our goal is to give them the tools so they can save a life in the middle of nowhere."
Classic injury patterns for ordnance disposal include blast injuries both on land and undersea, accidents and more frequently, crush injuries.
"The number one injury I have seen in my experience working with explosive ordnance disposal is crush injuries," said Eichenmuller. "These guys are dealing with ordnance that weigh thousands of pounds. In knowing this, we adjusted our presentations and techniques to prepare them for injuries they might encounter."
Eichenmuller and his team will be at the CMAC site for a total of three days. They also have provided the deminers with medical kits as well as interactive demonstrations to better prepare them.
"They are very enthusiastic. They really want to learn and we are making sure they complete a hands-on proficiency assessment every step of the lesson," said Eichenmuller. "They are ready to be field medics by the time we are done here."
The CMAC dive team leader Sok Chenda sat at the front of the class during the lesson.
"This is very important for us to learn," said Chenda. "If someone from my team gets hurt, we now know how to help them and escort them safely to the hospital in time."
Pacific Partnership is in its ninth iteration and is the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Asia-Pacific region.