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Posted on Oct 2, 2006 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

Another Busy Day

By James Bradley

The following article was written by the Canadian Commander of the multinational hospital in Kandahar airfield, Afghanistan and will soon be published inside their internal newspaper (The Canadian Forces’ "Maple Leaf"). We would like to express our thanks to Major André F. Berdais, the Canadian Forces Public Affairs Officer for allowing us to publish this article here on the Armchair General website.

Another Busy Day

By Major James Bradley, Canadian Forces, Acting Commanding Officer
Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

Monday September 18th saw another busy day for the Canadian-led multinational surgical medical center (i.e. the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit) in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A suicide bomber had attacked a platoon of dismounted Canadian soldiers in the Panjawi area. The bomb was laden with ball bearings and there were numerous casualties with serious injuries to legs in particular.

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We received the initial report at 0925 hours. Within twenty minutes it was obvious that this would be a Massive Casualty Evacuation (MASCAL.) Everyone was called in. The British and Australian national medical elements on the base sent staff over to help. The first U.S. Blackhawk MEDEVAC arrived at 1036 hours with two litter cases. These specialized helicopters carry crews consisting of a mix of American and Australian medics and physicians. A second Blackhawk with three litters arrived at 1043 hours. Finally, 26 minutes later, an American Chinook helicopter landed with six litter patients and two walking wounded. One more casualty came in later by Blackhawk, and finally some of the less severe wounded came into Primary Care after returning to the camp by convoy. There were a total of 22 casualties from the incident. This does not include the four soldiers who died.

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Although this MASCAL had fewer casualties than the Labour Day incident, the severity of the injuries was greater this time. Also, just prior to the MASCAL we had received three local national casualties from a separate incident.

The multinational team is very slick at responding to MASCALs. All sections prepared for the onslaught. Patients were moved out of the ward to the overflow beds in Primary Care, supplies were readied, an additional trauma bay was set up, stretcher bearers were briefed, and additional personnel were dispatched with the ambulances to assist with triage at the flight line.

The ambulance teams were a mix of Canadians, Americans, and Britons. They off loaded the casualties from the helicopters and then loaded them on the ambulances. The ambulances moved to the backdoor of the facility and the stretcher-bearers, mostly coming from the British Air Staging Unit, brought the casualties to the trauma bays.

The bays filled up quickly so we used two beds on the ward for a total of ten trauma bays. The trauma teams were made from all nationalities. There would be an American doctor with a Canadian nurse, a Danish specialist, and a Dutch medical technician. Each Trauma Bay had a different mix. We had eight Norwegian nurses in the facility to assist with the ongoing military operation in the region – Operation MEDUSA. They saw more trauma on this one day than they had seen in six months in their facility in Mazar-E Sharif, in northern Afghanistan.

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