Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dark Clouds

The new Air Force team is off to a remarkable start. Unfortunately, not the good sense. Yesterday, we experienced our busiest day in well over a month. Three separate IED blasts brought patients to us, many of whom turned out to be KIAs. It was a deadly day.

Initially, an IED attack occured near one of the remote FOB. Four patients became two when two died during transport.  Later, another IED detonated along the Pakistan border from which we received a border patrol agent who was injured beyond our help. Another attack resulted in a badly wounded Afghan soldier with spleen and liver injuries so extensive that he required nearly 50 units of blood product to stabilize him. Finally, a 10 year-old boy in a motor vehicle accident sustained arterial injuries.  To top it all off, MEDEVACs were held up by a rocket attack and subsequent casualties at KAF. The sum total left us to wonder if the day was an orchestrated campaign by the Taliban.

I happened to have a conversation with the local brigade combat team's surgeon.  He offered that, thus far, this has been a busier winter of combat than in past years.  Perhaps, because the weather has been warmer than usual which allows digging in ground not cold enough to be frozen, something I had not considered before. He also mentioned that insurgents seem to be directing their efforts towards placing lower energy IEDs.  The lower energy IEDs have subsequently been directed at Afghan units which seems to be consistent with our recent patient population. By the end of the day, his thoughts seemed prophetic.

Dark clouds rolled in overnight and this morning we woke to sleet and heavy rain.  It was as much precipitation as we have seen since our arrival and has turned our lovely dirt into lovelier mud.

Puddle of mud complementing Howitzer lawn ornament
Hopefully yesterday's events don't represent dark clouds of another sort hanging over the new team's head. They have a long road ahead with spring and summer combat just around the corner.

Post script: I found some pictures of MEDEVAC operations in Helmand province taken on the same day as our casualties.

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