The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


April 12, 2007

Name: LT Carl Goforth
Posting date: 4/12/07
Stationed in: Anbar Province, Iraq
Milblog url:

Framed_goforth_barrierThis is the backside of the hospital, and is our casualty receiving area. The vehicles that come barreling down this alley are as varied as the patients. Everything from Bradleys and Strykers to Iraqi Coalition vehicles and MIA1 Abrahams. Two days ago we added massive concrete barriers between the passageway and our receiving area. Don't you want to know why?

Here's the story: I was standing in the trauma bay when we got a heads-up that suspected insurgents were being brought in after a firefight out in Ramadi. Our teams assembled quickly outside to receive the patients (our normal modus operandi). So imagine the surprise when two Iraqi Police trucks whip around the corner, bristling with AK-47's -- from the truck beds, the windows -- one IP standing at the .50 Cal mount, with all weapons fully loaded! "HOLY SH...." was all I was thinking, if you want the truth. We know and work with the Iraqi Police fairly close at this point, but still: who really knows who the bad guys are? They could have vaporized most of the trauma team in seconds. The front gate had failed to get them to actually clear all weapons before entering. Can someone say "dropped the ball"? We immediately put in a priority construction request.

Mild trauma trickled in all that day. Head bumps here, superficial penetrating shrapnel there. That evening after chow: devastating. A young Iraqi boy came in after getting run over by an IP police truck. His left thigh was torn in half, with muscle and connective tissue bulging out of a hasty field dressing. There were serious head injuries we just didn't have time to evaluate. We tried in vain to get IV lines started on him, with no success. His breathing became slower as it crept towards agonal, and we just got an intra-osseous line as he crashed on us. Heroics kicked in, and we attempted cardiac massage, tried giving blood through the osseous lines, and resorted to intra-ventricular fluid/blood administration. He was anoxic for 10 minutes and we just couldn't stand to give up.

Then reality caught up with us. It was all I could do to compose myself, as I gently held his leg (I was running fluids/blood and medications at the foot of the bed) and lifted his innocent Spirit up to the good Lord...Only His strength keeps me going; I know it isn't mine. I can't express how deeply hurt and vulnerable the team feels when we can't save a child...

In general terms Ramadi is quiet. There have been significant crackdowns by the Iraqi Police over the past week, and daily critical incidents are down. But yesterday there was another "police gone wild" incident. A civilian was brought in with significant trauma. He had also been hit by an Iraqi Police vehicle. He came in obtunded with a GCS of 8-9. Anesthesia secured his airway, we gave mannitol (osmotic diuretic to decrease brain swelling), and hyperventilated him. I flew him to Balad within the hour. I knew this was going to be a rough flight when we started giving him doses of epinephrine before I left -- not a good prognosticator. Anyway, I was able to get him safely to Balad via Blackhawk. I was so busy managing his blood pressure, heart rate, and end-tital CO2 that it felt like the flight was only about ten minutes. As soon as we touched down, I raced ahead to give report to the ED physician. They asked me where I was coming from, and I temporarily blanked and said "Al Asad". After a few odd looks, it dawned on me that I was disoriented from the flight, so I quipped "I don't know: Iraq!" Always looking to break the tension whenever I can.Reframed_goforth_portrait

Apparently there were significant explosions outside the base while I was flying. As we were coming back to Ramadi, I saw a few fires burning in the distance and a lot of IP vehicle activity. As of now I have no idea what happened. I heard when I got back that several detonations had been felt.

If this pattern of running over civilians sustains, I'm going to suggest the IPs switch over to mopeds. At least a gang of AK-47-wielding moped riders won't seem as threatening to the trauma team the next time the front gate "accidentally" forgets to clear weapons.

We also toured the Camp Ramadi fire department yesterday to find out what equipment and capabilities they have. Impressive. After the brief one of our anesthesia providers, "Bob", asked with all seriousness "So, do all of the fire station vehicles have IED's?" You could have heard a gnat scratching itself as the firemen all looked at each other. One finally said "I sure as h... hope not!" Bob had meant to ask if the trucks all had automated external defibrillators (AED), not improvised explosive devices (IED). I can't do justice to how funny that was...


Nice slice of life in your part of the woods. I can appreciate your pain at loosing the boy. My husband was a medic durng VN & was assisting when they lost a child. It devastated everyone. Army medics aren't pediatricians - and shouldn't have to be. Be at peace knowing that this was beyond your control.

IP on mopeds. Great idea!

It is always about the kids that die in the middle of this stuff. Puts the rest of it in context.

Thank-you for this account of a harrowing day. Know the feeling about kids - was an ICU Nurse for lotsa years and the hurt does linger. Thanks too, LT, for all you are doing for those in need - in Iraq!! God bless!

The police is the pain now days.. so how get back our freedom in this world ?

I searched for this theme! Thank-you for this account of a harrowing day. Know the feeling about kids - was an ICU Nurse for lotsa years and the hurt does linger.

It is always about the kids that die in the middle of this stuff. Puts the rest of it in context.GooD luck

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference IRAQI POLICE GONE WILD :

« Previous Article | Main | Next Article »

Search Doonesbury Sandbox Blog



My Photo