It was back to reality for the team last week. There was a passenger bus rollover in Qalat. Combat trauma is our primary mission so our ability to see non-war-related trauma varies. We see civilian trauma when we can ensure that our primary mission capability is not degraded. However, we are also the only trauma center in Zabul province. These conflicting realities sometimes creates real ethical dilemmas. Unfortunately, we cannot alone fix the broken healthcare system in our province. Nevertheless, when possible we take what comes and we have been in a "green" status all week.
In this incident, there were reportedly three fatalities and the local clinic was overwhelmed, so we handled nine patients with a variety of injuries. Among them was one young girl. Later in the day, we had two suspected insurgents with gunshot wounds. All told, in a twelve-hour period, we treated eleven patients, performed four major surgeries, and transfused over 90 units of blood and plasma.
Also of note this week has been construction of a new porch for our building, an ongoing project for our Officer-In-Charge (OIC) which brings to mind a story.
In the beginning was the gravel and the gravel was without form. And then came the patients. So the OIC said "Let there be a slab." And there was a slab. And the OIC saw the slab and it was good.
And then came the rain (not so often, don't kid yourself). So the OIC said "Let there be an awning." And there was an awning. And the OIC saw the awning and it was good.
And then came the darkness. So the OIC said "Let there be florescent lighting painted red so as to not attract insects which I have already created in abundance." And there was florescent lighting painted red. And the OIC didn't stumble in the darkness and it was good.
And then came the cold. So the OIC said "Let there be a porch." And there was a porch. And the OIC saw the porch and it was good.
And the OIC saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was good. And he rested.
But then came the paperwork...