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Indiana Guard, Nigerien Medics Bond Over Lifesaving Skills

  • Published
  • By Sgt. Hannah Clifton
  • Indiana National Guard Headquarters

NIAMEY, Niger – The Indiana National Guard state partnership medical team worked alongside the Niger armed forces’ first combat medic team for more than two weeks to teach tactical combat casualty care and behavioral health.

The mission didn’t stop there.

The Indiana National Guard team also trained a small group of Nigerien medics to certify them as instructors. They can now teach other Nigerien medics in tactical combat casualty care and behavioral health.

The enthusiasm and camaraderie of the Indiana National Guard’s medical staff spilled over to the Nigerien students and instructors. 

“Everyone broke down barriers and sought a connection and the whole class opened up,” Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Lewis, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Indiana state partnership’s medical team. “They want the knowledge, and they want to share. The strides that have been made in this partnership and the cohesiveness between us and them is just amazing.”

The tactical combat casualty care course covered lifesaving techniques, including improvised tourniquet application, IV and airway management and wound packing. Simultaneously, counselors, therapists and psychologists took a behavioral health course to provide additional coping techniques that can assist them in caring for Nigerien soldiers and citizens.

This program is a part of the Indiana National Guard’s mission to create a stronger partnership with Niger under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program. The two have been partners since 2017.

By cross-training and learning together, Niger’s armed forces can save countless lives and fight more effectively against the terrorist organizations that threaten Niger’s democracy.

“Being able to watch soldiers and airmen work side by side in a culturally diverse environment is an absolute honor,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Mathieson, officer in charge of the Indiana state partnership’s medical team. “Watching the Nigerien army, you quickly realize that they encounter resource constraints and terror threats that you and I will never be able to understand. It isn’t about if they are going to use these skills; it’s a matter of when. The work we’re doing has a real, palpable effect.”

While the Indiana National Guard’s medical team isn’t the only program working to help stabilize the region, they certainly are making an immediate and direct impact. Their efforts assist in fighting terrorism and saving lives, making Niger a safer place for everyone.