On “Micro” Medical Diplomacy – A Story

Last January, I posted here a piece on medical diplomacy, in which I reviewed the “levels” of such endeavors and their desired outcomes. I recently had a conversation with my son, a special agent in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, in which he told me this story:

Every year or so, a special medical team made up of Navy special forces and Marine Corps combat hospital corpsmen (all of whom receive special and intensive training as “first responders” in combat casualty care) visit our Embassies (at least in the part of the world where he was then stationed) to train the local Embassy security team how to respond, essentially, to shooting incidents. This week-long training includes some pretty intense life-saving trauma damage control techniques – hemorrhage control with tourniquets, pressure dressings and hemostatic agents, placing chest tubes for tension pneumothorax, treatment of shock with fluids, stabilization of fractures, and more.

Early in this fiscal year, the local security boss (Regional Security Officer) at my son’s Embassy invited representatives of the host nation’s Presidential Guard to observe and participate in the training. To say that these men were blown away by the level of sophistication – and effectiveness – of the training, and its implication in their own work for their nation’s leaders, would be an understatement. Not only were they seen gathering up the wrappings of all the specialized materials used in the training (“where can I get this stuff?”), they made very clear their dream to receive similar training for their entire team.

I don’t know if that special training ever materialized, but the message is clear: this is the kind of medical diplomacy, done at a very “local” but hugely impactful level, that can build good will – and friendship – that will last. The shame is that it happens “under the radar” and might not be seen by those in leadership who could use this kind of training to build good will throughout the world.

©2018 Thomas L Snyder

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