Yesterday we got hit with trauma after days of drought stricken life. It was about 4 P.M. when we received a call from “Dust Off” (helicopter medevac team) that they were transporting 2 soldiers to our FST; one U.S. soldier and an Afghan National Army soldier. We were given an ETA of 30 minutes which actually turned out to be accurate. Initial reports were the injuries sustained were caused by an IED and the ANA soldier sustained the brunt of the force. Once they landed Charlie Company transferred them from the Blackhawk to the FST. The ANA soldier was brought in first followed by the U.S. warrior. It was apparent the ANA soldier needed immediate medical care as he was starting to fade on us in our trauma resuscitation area; the U.S. soldier was stable. After our evaluation it was found that the ANA soldier had an unstable cervical spine fracture, significant facial injuries, a traumatic arthrotomy of his knee (laceration into the joint), penetrating abdominal wounds, and various other issues of concern. The patient was taken to the operating room for a joint effort from Joe J, Joey T and I. The two Joe’s explored his belly for bowel and other related injuries and I focused on his knee. Fortunately the two Joe’s found the source of bleeding in his abdomen and stopped it. I on the other hand washed out his knee and focused on removing an abundance of shrapnel from his legs. I don’t have the ability at our FST to surgically stabilize and further evaluate his spine so we immobilized it as best we could. After we completed our surgeries we called Baghram to secure transfer and the soldier was then packed up for transfer. During our events in the OR the U.S. soldier continues to do well. He sustained a laceration to his leg; which was washed out and loosely closed, and a closed head injury which appeared mild. He was transferred to the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) section of our base for evaluation and overnight accommodations. A “Steel Angel” eventually landed, picked up the ANA soldier and disappeared into the night for Baghram.
Today we were privileged to have the director of theater trauma visit the surgeons for an evaluation of our FST, and review of past, current and anticipated future medical trends in theater. It was a really informative meeting with inter-military studies some of which were classified. I never truly appreciated information like this in the past but when it’s a daily part of your life it becomes a valuable asset. This is a great example of how the military of the past has made giant leaps. Communication between military medicine assets has brought much treasured information about best treatment guidelines for trauma patients in the military setting. This information is then disseminated to civilian trauma centers around the world for benefit of all. I have seen this first hand in my civilian medical training and feel honored to be a part of that system today. I look forward to using the information I gained today to better treat our forces and friends.
P.S. I miss my family.