Learning emergency first aid skills on the northern border of Afghanistan

Learning emergency first aid skills on the northern border of Afghanistan
First Aid Training at Char Choob, Afghan Border Police (Zone 5), Photo by Ayyaz Mirza

Afghan Border Police (ABP) officers do not receive any first aid training during their basic and post-academy training. Some 92 per cent of officers on the Afghanistan/Tajikistan border have no knowledge of critical lifesaving skills. Officers often work in remote areas under extreme winter and summer conditions while facing insurgents and drug traffickers without ready access to emergency care.

“Our officers are untrained when it comes to first aid and the majority of our officers are illiterate because of 30 years of war. We desperately need first aid training to help save lives,” said General Habib Sayed Khail, former commander of ABP Zone 5 Headquarters.


  • 283 Afghan Border Police Officers trained
  • 35 hours of Emergency First Aid
  • 16 border outposts

In 2013, UNDP teamed up with the Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan (RCST) and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to provide training for officers in the field along the northern border. For the training program to work, the RCST sub-contracted with the Afghan/Tajik NGO, “Human Helping Foundation,” to develop a 35-hour course for both literate and illiterate officers which could be delivered in the field under very basic conditions when necessary, e.g., sometimes without heat or electricity and without traditional training facilities.

As a result, for the first time nearly 300 officers from sixteen different border outposts received invaluable training for dealing with both day-to-day injuries for themselves and family members, but also crucial life-saving skills to deal with issues such as penetrating wounds, heart attacks, snake bites, and broken limbs. A central part of the training was the development of a 20-page, 10 x 13 cm. handbook for officers to keep with their personal effects. The handbook is a ready reference which provides officers a quick (pictorial) overview of what they’ve learned. Each training location also received field medical kits. They were enthusiastically received by outpost medical officers who typically must buy their own equipment.

“Our officers were excited to receive the training,” said Colonel Talosh, Chief of Education, ABP Headquarters. “Some commented that it will help them in their homes and communities, and others said they can also potentially save the life of a fellow officer.”

BOMNAF’s objective is to reinforce border management capacity and trans-border cooperation in the Northern provinces of Afghanistan by building capacity through the provision of infrastructure, training and equipment to the Afghan Border Police (ABP)  deployed on Afghanistan’s northern frontier.

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