Cyclone Soldiers Help Aid Salang Evacuees
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Soldiers with Task Force Cyclone assisted with the medical evaluation and coordination of approximately 260 evacuees from an avalanche stricken area in the Salang district of Parwan province, Afghanistan.
Evacuees were airlifted to Bagram Airfield where professionals from Task Forces Cyclone, Falcon and Med, as well as the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing and other units aided the local nationals with medical attention, shelter, and hot meals.
The Cyclone medical non-commissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. David Irving, said those service members who assisted had practiced for such an event prior to this happening and he attributes the success of the operation to that practice (mass causality).
"We had a MASCAL exercise in November. I think that actually helped a lot of people realize how to handle something like this on a smaller scale," said Irving, a resident of Kokomo, Ind. "There were a lot of people who you could tell, had never done anything like this before. They instantly started taking lead from the people who had done this before. You could tell the training actually kicked in for some of the people."
According to the Task Force Cyclone brigade commander, Col. Richard Shatto, there are multiple coalition and multinational forces currently assisting in the mission, to include 400-500 U.S. members assisting directly or indirectly in helping the people of Salang.
"At this point it has nothing to do with the war on terror. This is a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. No different than what we would do back in the states or what we're doing currently in Haiti," said Shatto, a Columbus, Ind. resident.
According to Shatto the process for relief assistance is similar to that of the U.S. The governor requested assistance through the proper channels to organize efforts to help the people.
"The governor of Parwan, the district sub-governors, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense, have all been coordinating efforts to respond to this emergency. We have been nothing but a supporting element to them," said Shatto. "The Afghan government is competent and capable of taking care of their citizens and they care for their citizens."
Shatto said the efforts are similar to most any emergency response around the globe.
"I think day one and two into the response effort is just like any other response anywhere across the world. There are a lot of people doing great and wonderful things," said Shatto. "All of it came together very well and we executed what we needed to. We got those people off the mountain and got them first aid shelter and food."
Irving said the people seemed genuinely thankful for the assistance they were receiving.
"You could see it in their face. You could see they appreciated what we were doing. A lot of them were thankful because they were still alive," said Irving.
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