Medic Gives 'Best Work' in Afghanistan
(October 23, 2009)
Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan
Taylor trains an Afghan National Police officer
during a combat lifesaver course in
Afghanistan's Zabul province, Oct. 2, 2009.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Oct. 20, 2009 – An Army Reserve
soldier from Austin, Texas, who has been an emergency
medical technician since 1993 was one of the last soldiers
from Embedded Training Team Venom to leave Afghanistan's
Zabul province when Task Force Fury assumed the mission.
Sgt. Jonathan Taylor's mission was to train Afghan soldiers
and police to perform first aid, and to provide whatever
medical care he could.
“I've stayed here as long as I can,” Taylor said. “There's
nowhere else with such a huge medical need. I'd stay here
longer if they let me. There's
lots of good work to be done.”
Since April, that work has included 315 trauma patients, 55 urgent medical
evacuations, amputations, head injuries, injuries from roadside bombs and
vehicle rollovers, gunshot wounds, children shot by the Taliban and just about
every sort of injury imaginable, Taylor said. In addition, he saw a range of
medical conditions including bacterial and fungal infections, diabetes, heart
attacks, ailments from drug use and the common cold.
Taylor provided care in an environment where usually only nine or 10 other
American soldiers were around in a district with 50,000 people and no doctors.
“The normal support structure didn't exist, but the quality of care must
remain,” Taylor said. “You're the only decision maker with broad overall
guidelines. There's every medical condition you can think of -- far more than
you're qualified to handle.”
Taylor trained six Afghan soldiers up to U.S. Army medic standards, and 12
soldiers and five police officers up to combat lifesaver standards. All of the
Afghan soldiers were illiterate, Taylor said.
“It's hugely challenging teaching people who can't read or write to be a medic,”
he said. “They have to memorize everything, because they can't take notes. The
[police officers] were easier to train, because they were literate.”
Afghan police officer Abdul Halim, one of Taylor's students, recalled a
roadside-bomb attack in which a fellow policeman had his hand severed and no one
knew what to do.
“I didn't know how to help,” Halim said. “We thought the man would die, because
no one could help him. Now, if I saw someone bleeding, I'm confident I could
Halim said he will pass his knowledge on to his fellow police officers.
Taylor spent much of his tenure in Zabul resupplying and supporting operations.
He covered 8,000 miles on the road as a driver doing resupply missions or moving
between bases. Now that the embedded training teams in Zabul have been replaced
by an entire battalion of combat advisors and a Stryker battalion, many more
medics – as well as doctors and truck drivers -- are in the area.
“Hopefully, the greater resources will translate to a larger, more complete
mentor mission,” Taylor said. “All missions in Afghanistan exist to support this
mission. Everything we do is to bring the military and infrastructure up to have
the capacity of managing this country's affairs. It all exists so they can stand
on their own.”
Though he rarely receives thanks for his work, Taylor said, it has been
“I'm proud of my career outside the Army, but this is the best work I've done in
my life,” he said.
Article and photo by Army Sgt. Stephen Decatur
82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team public affairs office
American Forces Press Service
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