Wednesday, August 29, 2007

*20th Flight*

Very, very busy day yesterday. Started with 2 soldiers in full arrest on arrival, one was able to be revived. He was my flight, and this was by far my most critical patient to date. I'm proud to say he was in as good a condition, if not better, at the end of the flight compared to the beginning. Our staff invested a lot of themselves into this patient, and all were relieved to know he made it to the next level.
Several other groups of patients came in throughout the day. All turned out ok, but made for a constantly busy day, from beginning to end.

(Picture thanks to LT Harrison at TQ Surgical, picture is from my 19th flight)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Closer to the End

We are coming close to the end of our time out here, but it has been a busy week anyway. A couple of notes regarding what we have been seeing (not all-inclusive by any means)

  • An Iraqi woman was flown out with one of our nurses after being shot in the chest. Turns out the Bad Guys broke into her house, killed her 4 children, and shot her in retaliation for something they felt her husband did.
  • A long night started with 3 Marines whose vehicle was hit by and IED came in, 2 with minor shrapnel injuries and the other required surgery and a flight nurse transport. A 4th in the vehicle did not make it to us. This was immediately followed by a group of 5 Marines, also in a vehicle hit by an IED. All with injuries not requiring a visit to the OR or a flight nurse, but all did fly to a higher level medical facility after initial treatment here. We wrapped up the night around 0430.
  • I found out that one of the Army soldiers in the recent blackhawk crash that killed 14 service members was an alumnus of my high school, the first alumnus to die in Iraq from our school.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

More on the FMF Pin

See the link (CLICK ME) for an article on our pinning ceremony in the Marine Corps News...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Read Some of These Links

A couple weeks ago, we were visted by a journalist for several days named Leslie Sabbagh. She writes for a couple magazines, including Popular Mechanics and The Christian Science Monitor. Here are some links and notes about some of her online posts...

This is her blog (CLICK ME) for Popular Mechanics...

This is the entry for TQ Surgical she wrote(CLICK ME), it is worth noting that the two Corpsmen she quotes are both staff from Great Lakes, HM3 Ramirez is on his 3rd deployment to Iraq, and HM3 Smith is my cohort with teaching the EMT class here.

This is a link (CLICK ME) to an excellent article she wrote about the Army medics that we fly with. It is about their flying to point of injury missions, not the interfacility flights they do with us.

Here is her homepage (CLICK ME)

Check Out the Chest Candy

With me is LT Patrick Harrison, we were together in the same Marine Battalion (1/6) a good 12-13 years ago, and were promoted to Petty Officer 3rd Class (E-4) at the same time during our Med float (6 months of floating around the Mediterranean with 2000 other Marines).
The FMF pin I have been talking about is above our left chest pocket, it is now a permanent part of our uniform, whichever one we happen to be wearing.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

EMT Iraq

Left to Right - Back Row - SGT Champagne, HM2 Dunkley, HN Russell, HN Rivers, HM2 Hallenbeck - Front Row - Myself, HM3 Smith (co-coordinator)

The other major project I have been working (aside from the completed FMF qualification) is in the process of wrapping up in the next week or two. Around the beginning of May, HM3 Smith and myself decided to see if teaching a traditional EMT-Basic course out here was feasible. Class started the end of May, and has been going strong ever since. There has definitely been some logistical issues to work through (books, tests, equipment, class space), and fitting 120+ hours of class and clinical time into an operational schedule has been a challenge. While they missed out on the traditional ambulance time they would have gotten in a stateside class, I think they more than made up for it with the intensive trauma patients they cared for while here.
The National Registry of EMTs has acknowledged that this is the 1st EMT class taught in Iraq they are aware of.
5 students will be completing the course (4 Corpsmen and 1 Marine), and they have all shown a dedication to this class to be admired. They did all the requirements for this course on top of their normal duties.

19th Flight

Location, Location, Location.
Holds true even in Iraq, as in it is probably not good to live near a police station in Iraq. An Iraqi family of 3 (dad, mom, ~12 year old daughter) were at home, perhaps sitting around in the living room, when a mortar round fired by the bad guys errantly landed in their house. All 3 came to us, the first flight nurse flew with the daughter (intubated due to altered level of consciousness from a head injury) and the father (chest injury and general shrapnel), and after a lengthy surgery to repair a serious abdominal bleed and a very damaged lower leg (without a doubt the surgeons saved her leg - or at least gave her a fighting chance to keep it), I accompanied the mother to one of the level 3 facilities.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Incoming Mail

We found out yesterday that as of yesterday we would no longer be receiving any mail while we are out here, in preparation for our departure next month. Boxes and letters will no longer make it here, and any that were enroute to here are being turned back. I am not sure where these letters will be sent to, maybe they will be waiting for us in Camp Lejeune.

Thank you to everyone who has sent packages and letters, they have brought a little bit of home to this alien landscape (remember... I am from Wisconsin).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

18th Flight

We had a few Iraqi Police come in during the day after a firefight with some bad guys. Most had extremity injuries, but one was significantly worse off with a bad pelvis injury and internal bleeding. After he was treated in the OR, I flew with him, and one of the extremity injuries to Al-Asad in a Blackhawk, my first day flight with the army (they used to do only night flights.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007


We seem to be stuck on Groundhog's day, every day the same as the one before. We are planning for our relief to arrive soon, and it is nice to be thinking about home (as in 'I'm going home'). we do have a little while yet until that happens, but just planning for it is a nice feeling.

A couple days ago we had several Marines arrive after their vehicle was hit by an IED, most were ok, a couple went to the OR, and one required a nurse to fly with him after the surgery. Many of our staff didn't get any sleep that night. We have been getting injured into our facility much more often than what I mention here, keep in mind that there are several nurses that are in the flight rotation, so for every flight that I go on, there have been several other nurse flights in between.

I am amazed at the night time skies out here. There is hardly ever a cloud in the sky, and it makes for an incredible night time view of the stars. Even in the farmlands of Wisconsin, I do not think I have ever seen such a clear view of the stars.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Someone Thinks I'm Interesting...

Here's a first, I've been interviewed on a blog. Feel free to check it out (CLICK ME), and I encourage you to spend some time looking around the site (CLICK ME), and vote on some of the charities for injured service members.

Please read what VAjoe has to say in his own words:
"I don't know if you've had a chance to look around my site, but VAJoe will be donating $2,000 to military charities. It's called Charity for Charities (

In Charity for Charities, people come to VAJoe and vote for their favorite military charities. They can nominate charities, also. The charities with the most votes and one randomly selected charity share the $2,000. I'm trying to raise awareness of military charities and the work they do in a way that is fun for people."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I Did It!

Fleet Marine Force Qualified Officer

"Attainment of the FMFQO designation for a Navy officer signifies an achieved level of excellence and proficiency in Marine Corps operations and indicates a fundamental understanding of a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) and its components. The FMFQO insignia signifies additional general knowledge that enhances their understanding of war fighting, mission effectiveness, and command survivability. Officers who wear the FMFQO insignia stand out as significant contributors to the Naval services' ground warfare mission. The FMFQO qualification may only be obtained through the formal qualification program set forth in this instruction."

5 Months of classes and studying, and I completed my oral board last night. Almost all of the officers here have completed the requirements, or will shortly, and we will all put our pins on our uniforms in a ceremony later this month. Pictures to come after that.
This was one of my 2 major projects I've been working on outside of normal duties, more to come on the other project soon.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

17th Flight

Had my 17th flight on Monday. Took a Marine to Balad after he was hit by an IED, shrapnel injuries and a belly injury. Flight was very busy, but his condition actually improved over the course of the flight. The trip to Balad, or Al-Asad, isn't nearly as scenic as going to Baghdad, but we prefer the less scenic route if it means less chance being shot at.