Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Young Men And Women Die

A letter from an Air Force surgeon in Iraq explained the First Rule of War. Get a couple of tissues and go here. I'll wait. (update: seems you have to scroll down to 'Letter From A Doctor in Iraq)
Back? Nose blown and eyes wiped? Yeah the cigar smoke is tough in this little room, sorry. Lemme light those candles, they help some.
Are you struck by the effort those Docs , Nurses and other personals expended before they even looked at the obviously nonsurvivable head wound? No one in that trauma center OR even thought about half stepping, a young man was badly injured by an IED and they were going to do everything possible. They did, they ran the IVs and the ventilator, the X-Rays and ultrasound and checked for other wounds. Then they ran up against Rule Number One. Young Men and Women Die.

Rule Number Two was staring them in the face...Surgeons Cannot Change the First Rule. They've sure modified it, though. They're saving lives. Routinely. They're saving people that, in my war, would have been set aside in Triage with the strongest Nurses and Corpsmen charged with holding their hands while they died. It starts at the point of the injury. All of our Servicemen and women get basic first aid training with a significant number of them getting a higher level called Combat Lifesaver training. Then there's 'Doc', the Medic, usually one per platoon in my day with a few extras for when platoons are sent out as squads in different directions. There are the crews of the Medevac Helos, Dustoff. Everyone wearing Uncle's Suit goes out knowing that if their luck runs sour Dustoff will come. Bad weather? Dustoff comes anyway. Shooting? Dustoff comes with a couple friends, Apaches or Sea Cobras to force the bad guys to keep their heads down for a minute. Once Dustoff comes the trained Medics in the crew start work right then, stabilizing the injured soldier and, as importantly, radioing the hospital with all the info they can get, all while the pilots are firewalling the throttles and blowing on the windshield to get that extra tenth of an MPH.

Back at the Base the Servicemembers having nothing at all to do with the hospital are still involved. Let a whole bunch of people have a Bad Day at the same time and watch the line form at the blood bank.

Young Men and Women Die. It's not for lack of trying.
Hat tip: Mudville Gazette

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