30 November 2007

1 DEC 2007 Precision

1 DEC 2007 Precision

He said he was an Al Jazeera photojournalist. But today in the age of YouTube and podcasts, who isn't? The troop guarding him said that he was speaking in English until the medics at the aid station intubated him.  He was one of a group of (redacted) injured men. Their injuries were varied and severe. Shrapnel had been driven into internal organs, perforating small bowel, blood vessels, gall bladder, pancreas, liver. Chest tubes distributed among their bodies drained blood and air into collection resevoirs. Eyes were punctured with small shards of metal and genitals were torn by metal fragments. They all required surgery. They were in trouble in the ER with dropping temperatures and abnormal laboratory values. With each new x-ray we performed it seemed like we found a new fragment and concommitant injury. In the operating room, we worked in teams of two, tagging off between specialties. Once work was finished on the belly, work would begin on the eye, and so on. Our assembled team of specialists each leant a degree of precision that would be hard to find elsewhere in the region. When time became crucial, we actually moved the operating table over and worked with two patients in the same room simutaneously. Legend has it that every time we operate with two patients in the same room, an angel gets its wings. As each operation finished, the bandaged men with tubes emerging from every orifice were rolled into the intensive care unit for expert monitoring of their recovery.

I cannot say it frequently enough; I can only trust the events that happen within the walls of this hospital, before my own eyes. "Trust no one" is the mantra of the paranoid surgeon. I double check everyone and triple check myself. Everything that occurs outside of the hospital I consider to be rumors and lies. All I can be sure of is that the Blackhawks land, and the helipad crew unloads the patients. Still, the story told by the troops who accompanied the injured men was pretty clear and convincing. The troops were patrolling in a (redacted) helcopter to the (redacted) of (redacted). The group of men we treated were on a lookout position on the ground. One of the men fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the helicopter while a companion of his recorded it with a video camera. The unguided RPG missed the helicopter by a mile. The helicopter deftly maneuvered to direct its arsenal at the men, and fired a precisely accurate (redacted) at the attackers' position. The threat was neutralized immediately. The troops quickly called in a dustoff. The medics rapidly transported the injured men to lifesaving care.

Of course I asked, in the interest of obtaining a thorough history of the mechanics of the traumatic event, but the video recording was not available.

Doing our best over here,



Pigasus said...

I never thought a suspicious/double checking doctor was anything other than a good doctor.

There is a popular saying in Russian that Regan picked up: "Trust, but verify."

The RPG-7 has rather large stabilizing fins in the back which cause it to turn into a crosswind. So the bigger the crosswind the more upwind the missile turns. This is counter-intuitive and rookie RPG gunners will generally put upwind "dope" into their shot. This leads to big misses on crosswind shots.

RPGs have a self destruct timer. If I remember right it goes off after about 600 meters of flight. Legend has it that USSF taught Mujahideen in Afghanistan to exploit this timer against Russian helicopters. If you timed the shot right, you could airburst your RPG.

Sadly, the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" doctrine has bitten us in the butt again.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a couple months after I heard about it in the Washington Post. I was an AF medic from 89-96. Your posts are so well written and honest. Thanks for serving...and keeping us informed. All of God's blessings to you and your family.

Holly said...

Another excellent post, Chris. That shot of doubling up in the OR reminds me of a scene from MASH, one of your fav Movies.

Also, I have to laugh [even though I know it's a very serious matter] when I read "they went to the [redacted] of [redacted] and fired [redacted] of [redacted]." I can't help myself, it just strikes me as funny. Maybe it's because I know you're thwarting the terrorists.

Keep up the good work, in Surgery and writing.

lainy said...

I am amazed at your strength to carry on like you do.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

hi at last it has dawned on me what 'redacted' means! as retired english lady thought it must be esoteric usa military jargon! all the best to the best - all over there.take care