Monday, May 31, 2010

Life as a frontline medic in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal (LCpl) Michael 'Doc' McLoughlin is a medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps attached to The Royal Dragoon Guards. He is currently serving with a ground holding unit on the frontline against the Taliban in the southern district of Nad-e-Ali. The patrol base was seized as part of operation Moshtarak early in the year.

LCpl McLoughlin (22) from Manchester is the first line of medical support for the soldiers of C Squadron Royal Dragoon Guards who are currently operating as an infantry unit for their six-month tour of Afghanistan. The patrol base is some two kilometres from other ISAF locations. It regularly comes under fire from insurgents, as do the soldiers who patrol the surrounding area to provide protection and security for the local villagers.

"As a medic within the infantry, I'm an infantry soldier when I'm out on the ground, but I carry a lot of medical equipment, in case my trade is needed. So I'm kind of dual traded in a way. I do their job, but I also do the trade of my own," said LCpl McLoughlin.

As a frontline medic, LCpl McLoughlin spends most of his time out on patrol. It is his job to provide the immediate life saving first aid to soldiers if the worst should happen. This can include administering any fluids and pain relief required until the Medical Emergency Response Team are able to extract the casualty by helicopter. Each of the soldiers he serves alongside is also medically trained, but his specialist knowledge and equipment provide that extra support.

Inside the patrol base, he is the expert for routine medical problems. He comments, "The lads do come to me a lot and ask for basics such as sunscreen, can you look at my feet, or I've got an itch; just little things. I'm also there as a shoulder if needs be, to talk things through."

In addition to working with British forces, LCpl McLoughlin now spends some of his time teaching the Afghan National Police (ANP) attached to the patrol base in the basics of first aid. This is part of ISAF's increasing role to partner with the Afghan security forces as well as mentoring them.

He comments, "Every person gets skills fade, so we teach them (the ANP) to refresh their skills - everything from putting on a tourniquet to assembling a stretcher. Anything that will allow them to help themselves if ISAF isn't there. They now have the skills from our knowledge to save their lives."


  1. Interesting blog; at times, must be hard going for you mentally as well a phyiscally - but good on you and all our medics.....Keep up the good work: Stay Safe, Praying for you and all our troops. x

  2. A very interesting post.