Throughout my struggles with PTSD there is one particular shout I cannot get out of my mind. I see his face as he is brought onto the cab and I see how he ‘normerly’ looked. I wish I hadn’t known his name because that made it personal. I have said before that I try not to look at the casualties faces but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Instead of trying to talk through it fresh I thought I would copy the journal entry from that day. It was so much fresher in my mind then.
“Its been a difficult day today. We only had one shout but it was the worst one so far. It was a UK casualty who had been involved in an IED blast. Both his legs below knee had gone and when we rolled him over he had a crater where his bottom should have been. I don’t know how old he was but he seemed so young. He was an absolute mess and it shocked me with the severity of his injuries. I can’t forget the look in his eyes when he was first put in front of us and his skin looked so grey; he was just staring vacant and I actually thought he was dead initially but he was literally ‘just’ holding on. I drilled an IO into his arm so the doc could get access for drugs to put him to sleep. I then helped the other paramedic patch his legs with urgency as we really needed to role him to sort out the hole at the back. I grabbed a load of celox and began packing the hole to stop the bleed. I remember feeling his spine and I almost gagged!! I still can’t believe I actually had my hand inside his body, it was gross and I felt so sorry for him. I went through to ITU to see him later on and it didn’t look like the lad we had picked up. He was hooked up to loads of machines and he was swollen. The nurse had come over and said that we had done a really good job packing him and stopping the bleed. I will remember his name for sure and that made it even sadder. Sometimes its easier not to know their names then it doesn’t get personal. Then his boss who was at the side of his bed walked over and shook my hand and said thank you. I told him that the medics on the ground had done a fantastic job at stabilising him enough whilst waiting for MERT to arrive. I asked him to pass that down to the guys on the ground to give them confidence in their abilities. To be honest I then had to walk away and I started to cry. The visitors from Med Ops noticed I was a little quieter than I normally am and seemed genuinely concerned. At least they have seen a bad day so they can get a picture of what we have to do on a day to day basis. I guess it makes their visit useful for us if it means the medical team are not battered by deployments anymore. Li came in to see me because she knew I was having a bad day, she is bloody brilliant and I don’t know what I would do without her right now. I seem to be the only one outwardly affected by today unless the others are very good at hiding it. I need to go to bed now as I’m mentally and physically exhausted. A sad day as we also had a ramp ceremony for a young soldier who died last week. This place is crazy mad and I want to go home! Going to try to get some sleep now…”
“CCAST brought me a parcel when they came to pick up our patient from yesterday. He was stable enough but it appears he may have some organ damage from the blast which is a real shame. I hope in a way he makes it but in another way I hope he doesn’t; what quality of life will he have now? I guess that’s not our call though, we just have to do what we can to get them to the next stage of treatment. What I thought was nice was Gp Capt Med Ops came over and gave me a massive hug which I thought was welcoming at that point.”
Two days later: “Got back to the crew room tonight to the news that the boy who returned to Birmingham with CCAST had died. They said that we had done a really great job but its still shit. He was in a really bad way though but still, it is terrible news. We did all we could but remembering the horrific injuries it was bound to turn out like this. SIB (military police) are here at the moment collecting statements on the job and it makes you feel shit. Even when you know it is just procedure and that you did the best you could it still makes you feel bad that you couldn’t do more….”
That job, that young hero, will remain with me always along with so many emotions attached.
Blessings go out to his family on what will now always be a tough time xx