Green Beret Translates in the Emergency Room

Soldier put on gurney during simulation at Fort Campbell
Firemen from Fort Campbell Fire Department and first responders from Vanderbilt University Medical Center place and secure a wounded soldier on a gurney during a simulation training exercise May 8, 2018, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. (Sgt. Steven Lopez/40th Public Affairs Detachment)

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 not only to successful treatment but also for effective reassurance. The Fort Campbell Courier reports that a Green Beret undergoing a monthlong 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 after 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 properly was reassured.

Green Berets learn a wide range of skills oriented toward 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 the 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 not only must interact with them, but also 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.

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