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May 18, 2013

Area medic recalls Afghan service


“So then that left two, and one of them was unconscious. … He obviously suffered a pretty traumatic brain injury. So there was only one out of the six who could speak. And why he was lucky, I don’t know.

“Where he was in the vehicle may have had something to do with it. But, at any rate, there’s this one guy, and he’s a kid. He’s a kid to me, because I have a son who’s maybe two, three years younger than him.”

“He wasn’t in great shape either — he had a lot of things going on,” Gyukeri continued. “He had a lot of problems. … So he had all of his own problems to worry about, and there he was, laying on a stretcher, and all he cared about was what had happened to his friends.

“If I had been him, and I had bothered to look down, the last thing on my mind probably would have been how other people were doing. And that’s all he cared about. … I put that kid to sleep, and he was still asking about his friends, how they were, what had happened to them.”

Ultimately, the young man was the only survivor, Gyukeri said.

Forward surgical teams are the product of doctrinal changes in the past two decades, Gyukeri said.

“Military medicine, in general, has moved to splitting to much smaller elements and spreading them around more,” he said.

The idea is to reduce the time between injury and treatment, a period sometimes called the golden hour.

“Desert Storm-Desert Shield was the beginning of the concept of the forward surgical team, which is tiny team, which is what I was on,” he said.

“There’s two general surgeons, one orthopedic surgeon. There’s two nurse anesthetists, which is what I do. There’s one triage nurse, there’s two ICU nurses, one is an ICU RN, and one is an ICU LPN. And then we have two medics, and that’s it.”

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