09 October 2007

9 OCT Shooting up

9 OCT Shooting up

We get to share the experience of many different troops here on LSA Anaconda. Some of them do far different jobs than I do. We have had the good fortune to have the company of a soldier who is spending time with us surgeons, gaining experience in the hospital which will let him better care for his platoon. He is one of the highly trained quiet professionals who are chosen for the more difficult tasks of the war. In his group, he has been selected as the medic and has honed his skill through training and much real world practice.

Here at the hospital, he hangs around with us as we loiter at the PLX, cruise the ER, and head back to the operating room with patients. Sometimes he will take the day shift, scrubbing in to help us stem the bleeding and clean the wounds of patients who are lifted in from the field Other times he spends the night in the hospital, helping treat the US troops who make a stop at our hospital for a last chance to stabilize their wounds before they ride the big bird out of the country to our evacuation hospital in Europe.

He is a quick learner, and very adept with his hands. It is clear that he has already done many of the procedures he practices with us: tracheostomy emergency breathing tubes in the neck, tubes in the chest to drain blood and reinflate the lungs, and suturing of lacerations. The difference is, he usually doesn't have all of the luxuries of clean working space, bright lights, and a well informed assistant with an abundance of supplies. He is usually working in a dark, dirty environment during an ongoing battle. He is very thoughtful and prepared and showed us a sparse field kit of instruments that would let him do the most with the least. I was very surprised to learn that on some missions, he actually inserts IV catheters into the team members so that they already have a good start if they are hit.

This man has a very young, casual appearance that belies his specialized tactical skills. His hair is medium brown and a bit longer than most of us, his eyes are attentive and bright, and his rounded cheeks frame a friendly smirk. He blends in well and contributes sparingly to conversations. Once we got him talking about techniques and missions and it was amazing to hear descriptions of his crew's ability to enter and control incredibly dangerous and chaotic environments.

He was kind enough to bring us to the shooting range across base one afternoon and we surgeons became his willing students. He is an incredible teacher because he has the gift of being able to convey instruction and correction verbally with out resorting to the defense of “here, give it to me and I'll show you”. He also had bountiful patience with our limited familiarity with the weapons and fighting stances. This patience is most reliable indicator of a great teacher.
Some of us were better than others with the automatic weapon. With the selector set to full-auto, I was amazed with the force with which the weapon pushed back. It was like trying to stand in chest deep water on Cape Cod when the tide is coming in. This shooting wasn't the measured cerebral target shooting we learned to qualify on our weapons on the pastoral range in Texas. He demonstrated aggressive and balanced postures and techniques that he used to respond to hostile environments and volatile situations. He told us how a full-throttle mindset and hyper-vigilance are as essential as technical weapon skills. He is yet another troop who has a far more difficult job than I do. I am thankful my life is guarded by such men and women.

When he explained anatomic targeting strategies it actually gave me an chilling perspective from which to analyze freshly wounded patients. It explained some of the patterns of injury I had seen and why the organs hit seemed to differ depending on if the patient was a member of coalition forces or a member of the insurgency. I appreciated this improvement in my ability to give the best care for those who come through my door. I hope that we surgeons measure up and give this soldier an edge or two keeping his troops alive if they have misfortune to encounter harm.

We have to be so proud of our military. Consider that 1.5% of the US population is throwing their lot in with Defense to keep all of us safe. I may be a military member, but most of the time I feel like I am receiving the great benefits of freedom with a far smaller sacrifice on my part. I just hope our whole country and the government itself never fails to value the lives of this willing population and guards their fate through thoughtful application of diplomacy and force.


rlbates said...

I thank you for your service. I pray that you all will be safe.

Chris said...

Thank you very much, I appreciate your sentiments. I feel very safe on this base which is so well defended by such professional troops.

Take care,


Jeffrey said...

while i am not american, thanks for ur involvement in an area that needs medical aid. ill pray for your safety and even the professional soldiers on duty. peace comes at a price and i can appreciate this. help me relay the msg to them that people over the world acknowledge their work and sacrifice.

God be with you all.

Holly said...

Interesting shooting stance there, Doc. lol. Next time try standing more upright and leaning from the hips, not the waist.
And for Gawd's sake, wear EAR PROTECTION!!! Maybe you've got plugs in, but don't they give you guys somethin' better?
And isn't full auto just the most fun you can have with all your clothes on?

Chris said...

Jeffrey, always good to hear for you! Take good care and enjoy your studies.

Holly, full auto just SCARED me! I wasn't worried about hips or waist, I was hanging on for dear life. I think I'll stick to the knife; I can do enough damage that way!

Take care,