Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Perspective: U.S. Army medics train for "shock and horror"

MIAMI (Reuters) - Army Lt. Col. Donald Robinson is no stranger to bloodshed. As a civilian he served as a trauma surgeon at Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, a city so violent he says doctors call it the "Knife and Gun Club."

Nothing in Camden could fully prepare him for what he saw as chief of surgical and critical care at the U.S. Army's premier medical facility in Iraq, however. He put in long hours there from December 2004 through July 2005.

Improved body armor and medical care mean more soldiers survive war injuries in Iraq than in past conflicts, and Robinson said well-trained army medics are making a big difference.

But Robinson said the injuries caused by Iraq's dreaded improvised explosive devices are unlike anything seen in combat before, posing constant challenges for army field surgery specialists in a conflict that has been dubbed the "Superbowl of Trauma."

Robinson says he can't remember how many amputations he performed as chief of trauma and director of the intensive care unit at the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad.

"They were too numerous to count," he said.

Read the rest at the Washington Post