May 27th, 2006 06:20 EST
Medics make house call for nomads
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Medics, interpreters and support personnel from the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team set up a short-notice medical outreach May 18 for the nomadic Kuchi people during their spring migration through the Panjshir Valley.
Known as a Medical Civic Action Program or MEDCAP, the event provided treatment for Kuchi families as they move their sheep, goats, donkeys, camels and cattle to the high country for the summer. The Kuchi are Afghan Pashtun who migrate among the lowlands and highlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan each year.
?We?ve seen the Kuchi families on the road the last week or so as they move their herds North and we wanted to meet them and learn from them,? said Lt. Col. Neal Kringel, Panjshir PRT commander.
Mr. Fletcher Burton, Panjshir PRT director, and Colonel Kringel met with Mr. Abdul Qadeer, the Panjshir Chief of Traffic Police, to discuss a coordinated meeting with the Kuchi.
?We brought the impromptu meeting idea to Mr. Qadeer and he quickly agreed that we should do it,? Mr. Burton said. ?In fact, he led us out right then to meet some of the Kuchi who happened to be in the area.?
The delegation met with a Kuchi family who were camped along the Panjshir River north of Bazarak. They received a warm welcome and learned more about the culture and history of the Kuchi people. In addition, Mr. Burton and Colonel Kringel discussed the mission and capabilities of the PRT.
?A few people had nagging medical issues, so we returned with our medics,? said Colonel Kringel. ?We need friends and allies all around and this was a chance to help people who are often left off to the side.?
The medical needs ranged from a teenager with a recurring back injury to a baby with diarrhea and several adults with eye irritations.
?What began as a house call of sorts turned into a mini sick call,? said Maj. Kurt Workmaster, a reservist deployed from Duke Field at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida who is the Panjshir PRT physician assistant. ?We saw ten patients ranging from an infant to the elders of the families.?
This was the PRT?s first MEDCAP since arriving in the valley earlier this month. The team learned a few lessons from this first event.
?Our current bags are set up for mass trauma situations,? said Technical Sgt. Charles Campbell, deployed from Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. He is the Non Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Panjshir PRT medics.
?We need to set up a bag geared more toward family medicine versus emergency medicine,? he said.