Soldiers build new aid station in Afghanistan

News and Press Release
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By Army Sgt. Zach Otto

Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Nov. 21, 2008 - Soldiers with a battalion of the 101st Airborne Division have rebuilt an aid station allowing them to improve care in a critical part of Afghanistan.

Located in a highly violent area of Afghanistan, Combat Outpost Zirok is near a route insurgents use to enter the country from Pakistan, making a large and organized aid station a necessity.

The outpost's aid station originally was housed in a narrow metal shipping container. It was difficult to keep things organized, and if a patient required more than one medic, it was nearly impossible to move around. With the recent arrival of two new platoons, the need for a larger aid station became clear.

When Army Staff Sgt. David Edwards, the treatment noncommissioned officer in charge of the 101st Airborne Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, was sent to COP Zirok, his first task was to make the aid station larger.

He began building a new station from scratch. Along the way, battalion soldiers jumped in and started helping. In less than a month, the new station was up and running.

"Everyone knew this was a benefit for them on this COP, so everyone pitched in and helped out in the construction of it," Edwards said. "This aid station benefits COP Zirok tremendously. I am now able to have more than one person helping on a patient as well as have all supplies within arm's reach and organized."

The new structure is about 400 percent larger than the previous one and provides a sleeping area for four on-call medics so they can be ready at a moment's notice to treat patients.

"The new aid station gives us the opportunity to treat more people as well as have more organization within the station itself," said Army 1st Lt. Dan Huff, executive officer for the battalion's Company A.

The Zirok aid station is stocked with everything from small adhesive bandages to advanced trauma supplies, and it can hold up to four patients. However, patients will not spend extended lengths of time there.

"We would stabilize the patient long enough for them to be flown to another hospital," Edwards said. "We would analyze the soldier and decide, depending on what type of injury, on which hospital to send them to."

The aid station is able to perform many of the same tasks a field hospital can. Edwards said this is possible because of the well-trained medics at COP Zirok and the medical staff at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E.

"With FOB Orgun-E being so close and in direct contact with us, we can get advice any time, as well as same-day supplies if need be," Edwards said.

(Army Sgt. Zach Otto serves in Combined Joint Task Force