Medical emergencies can be some of the most stressful moments in someone's life, especially if it involves the emergency room. Anyone entering critical care has precious few moments to understand what their options are and what the doctors are going to do. During this time, communication is key to not only successful treatment, but effective reassurance. The Fort Campbell Courier reports that a Green Beret undergoing a month-long training program at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee was integral to establishing this type of connection with a patient who didn't speak English.
Sergeant 1st Class David Krug is part of the 5th Special Forces Group as a medical sergeant, and the 750 hours he spent learning Arabic and Persian Farsi did not go to waste outside of his unit. A patient was brought in to Vanderbilt University Medical Center having survived a car accident, and doctors couldn't communicate with him or his family. Krug recognized that the family was speaking Arabic and proceeded to introduce himself. From there, communication flowed easily and the family was properly reassured.
Green Berets learn a wide range of skills oriented towards mission success in enemy territory. While needing to shoot and survive are critical to this aspiration, language skills are just as important. Krug's actions at the medical center are a perfect example of how military training has definite and tangible uses in the civilian world. "Clearly having someone speak your language can bring comfort," said Dr. Kaushik Mukherjee, a doctor with the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at VUMC as well as a doctor who Krug worked with and learned from during his time there. "His unique ability helped the staff communicate with the family."
Krug's unit, the 5th SFG, operates primarily in Middle East and their language training places a heavy emphasis on the Arabic language. Learning the appropriate languages is key to working with local forces -- Green Berets must not only interact with them, but build a rapport as well. The Green Beret language program is intensive and focuses on practicality in comprehension and speaking -- and as it turns out, the same skills that Krug developed to work with foreign soldiers translated exceptionally well to a civilian role.