Iraqi Nurses Taught Infant Resuscitation

Iraqi Nurses Taught Infant Resuscitation

By Dialogo
December 09, 2010

U.S. Army medics have been teaching life-saving skills to their Iraqi Security Force counterparts, as part of their advise-and-assist mission under Operation New Dawn. Now these military doctors are extending their expertise into the delivery room.

During a 2-day class, soldiers with United States Division-Center, taught about 20 Iraqi nurses and midwives neonatal resuscitation techniques Nov. 28-29 at the Al Anbar Provincial Government Center, Iraq.

“Iraq has a high birth rate, but also a high infant mortality rate and this training will help,” said the lead instructor for the class, Lt. Col. Vincent Barnhart, 1st Armored Division surgeon, and a Chambersburg, Pa., native.

The Army doctors taught the Iraqi nurses basic steps of handling an infant after birth and the appropriate interventions, through lectures and hands-on practical exercises.

“Initial medical care the first few minutes after a baby is born is crucial,” said Capt. Baruch Zobrist, a physician assistant with Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, United States Division – Center. “Statistically, nine out of every 10 babies are born healthy births, and the one percent of infants who experience problems can usually be cared for through proper ventilation.”

The medics introduced positive pressure ventilation with a bag-valve mask to the nurses who said they typically use antibiotics to treat non-responsive infants.

“The bag-valve mask is a piece of equipment they don’t normally use,” said Capt. John Pillen, physician assistant with the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th AAB. “That was something new to them—a new skill, a new idea. They were a little bit hesitant at first to accept it, because it was new, but I think they’ve come to embrace it and are excited to take it back home to their communities and use it to improve the lives of infants.”

The attendees were provided a training kit and a delivery room kit, donated by a U.S. non-government organization. The training kits include a stethoscope, bulb suction device, bag-valve mask, towels and a baby mannequin.

“They now have all the tools they need,” assured Barnhart, who encouraged the nurses to teach others in their community and potentially increase the odds of saving lives.