Thursday, February 22, 2007

To Baghdad, adventurous Stranger

Flew my first patient last night with a trauma nurse I am replacing. All of our MEDVAC's are flown by the Army's 45th Aeromedical evacuation squadron based here at Al Asad. We exclusively fly H-60H's (Blackhawks) with the patient carousel in the fuselage, and are sandwiched between the crew chief and the helo medic.
My patient was an Iraqi Policeman that presented unresponsive and was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA......in other words very high blood sugar levels and acidotic...he had an impressive pH 6.90). We intubated him, started IV's, chest xray, labwork, ect. and then called for a MEDVAC.
Ummmm, I'm not sure exactly how to explain the flight.........don't want to alarm anyone. But flying into Baghdad is a "unique" experience all to itself. For the most part, there isn't much to see in transit.....a lot of desert with scattered homesteads.....fairly routine. But once we start approaching the Army Hospital in the heart of Baghdad, the pilots have a lot to deal with: we are approaching a hostile urban terrain complete with houses, street traffic, towers, antenna, and other low altitude aircraft. Not to mention they are trying to land. Have I mentioned yet that we aren't the only ones flying 1,000 feet off the deck trying to bring casualties to the hospital? So, they had no problems identifying the Army Chinook flying a few hundred feet below us.......it was the second Army Chinook they didn't see until it was almost too late........I'm glad the Blackhawks are much more maneuverable.........but it came with some interesting views of the neighborhood rooftops out my window. I don't think they intended for me to be able to count roof vents like that.
As if that wasn't fun enough, leaving was even more challenging: the new pilot forgot to turn off the landing lights before liftoff.....so about 30 seconds after taking to the air, the hospital ATC radioed them to warn them just as they started seeing tracer rounds.......none to worry: we launched about 6 flares (deflecting heat source and distracting light to throw off the enemy) and didn't gain any new air conditioning ports in the craft. The pilots were laughing about it once we got out of Baghdad (I'm plugged into their communications system while flying, and I'm still trying to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing)..........I guess it's all fun and games until you leave your lights on in indian territory! Just remember, I get all this and a paycheck to boot.....lets get some.
I'm inspired to quote C.S. Lewis as Digory and Polly come across the mysterious bell in the grand hall in his first book:
Make your choice, adventurous Stranger;
ring the bell and bide the danger.
Or wonder, till it drives you mad, What would have followed if you had.

Disclaimer: apologies to anyone who doesn't speak medicalese or military jargon.....this blog is going out to a broad audience, and I just can't explain it all....however, Google is only a few clicks away.....it will shed light on some of the technical stuff you may have questions about.
Also, I have been taking pictures, but just can't get the internet time to upload them yet....should be within the next week, including panoramic shoots from the roof of Saddam's Olympic Training Pool (story will have to wait for a future post, sorry!).
I finally have an email address:
carl.goforth@acemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil
Also, here is my mailing address:
LT Goforth
CLB-2, HSS/medical
Unit 73655
FPO, AE 09509-3655

God Bless and good night.......

14 comments:

Dad said...

Dear Carl,
Glad to hear you'e having fun. No, I'm not alarmed but remember the nice, dark brown hair I had when you left? Well, it's changing rapidly.
Don't have much else to say right now. My emotions have gone into "safe mode". Hopefully I can restart into normal operation in the morning.
Can't wait to see the pictures! Take care of yourself.

Dear everybody else,
I have information for sending packages that I will send out via email and will add to the comments on Desert Flier in a day or two. Don't know what Carl needs right now but it sounds like he will need some clean shorts pretty soon.

Dad

Vanessa said...

Zeesch, Carl. I needed my Meclizine just reading that! Maybe I should start wearing an S Patch all the time so I'll be ready for the ride...Do you know how many miles of wiring a Blackhawk has? After having seen it all laying out on the floor one day at Pat's place of employment I inquired :) Email me if you don't know the answer, bet you do though.
hugs
Nessa

mjb coffee said...

The pilots might have been laughing, but I would be scared to death. BUT I suppose my car passengers have the same feeling when I go through an orange light. Oh, there isn't an orange light on a stoplight? LOL Thank you for teaching me something new every time you write. We are never too old to learn something new. I am 29+ almost two and a half times.

Cynthia said...

Alarmed? Well yes, maybe a little. Warried? Trying not to be. Fearful? Not at all!! You're being held, regardless of everything and He controls it all. So, enjoy the ride and live the adventure...

C

Anonymous said...

Carl,
So glad you haven't lost your sense of humor. Looks like you have another job to do...make sure the pilot turns off the landing lights when you leave Baghdad!! Lots of love,
ChiTown Sandy

John C said...

Sounds like a great adventure. Hope you are adjusting well. Besure to give pearls of wisdom. I just found out I'm going to be replacing you in Aug/Sept. I'm very excited about it.

John

Anonymous said...

YIKES.

stay safe no "JIHADDY" for you...

truck

Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dad said...

News you can use.......

New pictures have been added. The link is near the top of the page on the right side labeled "Awesome Pics". Check it out.

Save on some shipping costs! Copied this from somewhere. I didn't verify.
USPS MILITARY PACK - YOUR FAMILY & FRIENDS CAN GET FREE PACKAGING MATERIALS TO SEND YOU or YOUR PALS GOOD STUFF!

The USPS has a program for military family members and friends to supply them with packaging materials to send packages to troops overseas, sailors on ships, etc. If you call 1-800-610-8734 and select option #1, then #1 again, ask them for the "Military pack." They will send you 8 boxes, tape, packaging materials and labels. They will also give you an I.D. number so if your supply runs low, you just call them up and they'll send you more supplies. The materials take about four to ten days to receive. Since most places charge you for the box, tape, filler, labels and everything else - this should help save some money.

Carl has called a couple of times but I've missed his calls. He leaves brief messages saying he is doing OK. He has also sent a couple of very brief emails. Business matters. Nothing worth sharing with anyone. I'll let you know if something comes up.

Dad

Anonymous said...

Carl,
And I thought my day was eventful!!! Hope your day ended with an ice cold beer! Thanks for the update, Phil

Vanessa said...

Great photos...I like the one where all of you are waiting on your cocktails and peanuts NOT! lol
Besides knives, ammunitions, flamable liquids and the obvious what are your postal restrictions. I was thinking of a CD from church....
Nessa

Ness said...

oopsy! the word is flammable.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, first for your tremendous service to our country, and second, for the wonderful blog.

sue said...

I really enjoyed reading your article!