Casualties are an inevitable part of war. Medics work hard to keep wounded soldiers alive and well if possible. We spoke via satellite with a Third ID brigade surgeon about the training and the challenges he faces, from the roadside bombs to getting to know the Iraqi people.
In a recent exercise in Baghdad, the calls for help were simulated. The blood was fake. But the training was deadly serious.
"Absolutely," said Capt. Capt. Raymond Brovont, brigade surgeon for the Fourth Brigade. "I think what we really to emphasize here is that the medics, so close to the front line, are the guys who first see the injuries. And they need to be comfortable and confident in dealing with all kinds of different traumatic injuries that they wouldn't normally see in training back at the rear."
Charged with training medics for the real thing, Capt. Brovont says it's essential the exercise simulate combat conditions.
"These medics are taking the lessons to heart and have really performed incredibly well out there in the field," he told us. "They pick up this material very quickly, they apply it, and they're saving soldiers' lives."
And today's theater of war can pose unique challenges, with remote-detonated roadside bombs and other dangers.
"What's different about this war is especially the violence of the devices," Capt. Brovont said. "I mean these people are not really choosing a target, they're choosing everyone. And I think the uncertainty is what a lot of medics have a hard time dealing with."
While training can help save lives, it's the bedside his wife says is Capt. Brovont's true calling. We caught up with Jessica Marien in Savannah, and she told us, "Raymond really likes seeing patients, and so he's able to see patients, and he sees American soldiers and he also helps Iraqi citizens."
"We treat local nationals, the local ING, the Iraqi National Guard and the Iraqi Army, at the hospital, like we would any other US soldier," Capt. Brovont said. "And they have really taken to our care of them, they've taken our lessons learned, and they've incorporated it into their own programs, which are flourishing."
And continuing to heal the wounds of war.
Capt. Brovont tells us a key component for keeping the worst injured alive is getting them away from the scene of combat quickly. He says they can airlift a soldier out of the field and get him into the OR in 30 minutes--anywhere in Iraq.