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BAQOUBA, Iraq — Iraqi police officer Hamid Mansour Jafar remembers standing at a traffic checkpoint in February when a suicide bomber on a bicycle rode into a crowded snarl of traffic and exploded.

Jafar, 29, rushed into the carnage and tried to bandage one civilian man’s wounded head with a shirt, then helped wrap another man’s wound to the neck.

Knowing his rudimentary skills as an emergency medic might be needed any day he works on the streets of Baqouba, Jafar was among more than a dozen police who attended a two-day course for Iraqi police similar to the “combat life-saver” program for U.S. soldiers.

As violence persists in this and other Iraqis cities, U.S. troops hope to help save more Iraqi lives by providing Iraqi security forces with more advanced medical training.

“You think wrapping a bandage is common sense, but for some people, they see blood and they just stare,” said Sgt. James Terry, part of a team of U.S. soldiers assigned to train the Iraqi police.

About 15 police showed up to the U.S.-run medical training program last week, which was held at a military base recently turned over to the Iraqi army.

Staff Sgt. Rodney Dippel used a computer projector with bilingual informational slides as a teaching aid, but he skipped through many aspects of the planned curriculum and made an effort to focus on the basics.

“For these guys, who really have no medical training … whatsoever, I break it down to the bare essentials. We want them to stop the bleeding and give their buddy a chance to survive,” said Dippel, a medic who runs the training class.

Iraqis were attentive as Pfc. Crystalynn Johnson acted as the “casualty” and lay flat on a table while Dipple poked and prodded her stomach, demonstrating how to probe for internal bleeding.

“If it’s soft, you’re OK,” Dippel said as a translator relayed his instructions into Arabic. “If it feels hard or solid, then you have a problem.”

The medical training is just one aspect of U.S. efforts to train the police force here. American soldiers and civilian consultants across the country are working to teach Iraqis the basic principals of local law enforcement as well as the marksmanship and maneuver drills they will need for daily security duties.

Nearly 100 Iraqi police have taken the medical class since U.S. troops began offering it in early March. That remains a small fraction of the 7,000 police in Diyala province, partly because medical training is not a top priority for Iraqi police leaders.

“It’s hard getting them out here because the leadership needs these guys for force protection,” Terry said. “It’s our goal to get everyone through here. But until they start sending people in huge numbers, that’s not going to happen.”


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