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May 18, 2013

Area medic recalls Afghan service

(Continued)

Wounded soldiers are assessed on arrival at a triage area by the doctors, and the less-severely injured are quickly handed off to medics from a medical support unit commonly referred to as Charlie Med.

“At that choke point, the decision point, we have medics from Charlie Med, from the non-critical medical unit, and we say, ‘OK, you take this one.’ … And basically, we kind of get them out of the way so it’s not choking up the whole flow of patients.”

But the triage also involves making some difficult choices.

“You don’t just pick the most critical, but you also pick the most critical who has the highest likelihood of surviving,” he said. “If somebody is extremely critical, but they’ve lost two much blood or whatever it might be, sometimes they’re not necessarily the guy that goes to the front of the line. It’s hard to describe it. There are limited resources and limited assets.”

The strain of such work can be difficult for some, Gyukeri acknowledged.

“I think all medical people, whether they’re in the military or not, that’s either in you or it’s not,” he said. “You figure early on in your medical training you’re either the guy or gal who freezes when somebody comes into the ER with a few bullets in their chest, or you’re the person who says, ‘Wow, this is awful, what am I going to do about it?’ And you’re motivated to act as opposed to being paralyzed by fear.”

“It’s awful to see that over and over again, but, I just kept saying to myself, ‘I’m glad I’m not having to go out on patrols,’” he added.

There are other risks to working so close to a combat zone, Gyukeri said.

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