An Iowa Army Medic Deals with the Chaos of a Field Hospital during the War in Afghanistan

Sergeant Heather Eberly describes her experiences as an Army Medic in a field hospital during the war in Afghanistan.


Sergeant Heather Eberly: "Chaos was so significant that day, it was just... we had doctors that had soldiers in surgery trying to, trying to save them... and a lot of them you couldn’t. And you could often tell, the ones you couldn’t save, just by their coloring when they came in. It was just really, really overwhelming but you have to pull yourself back together and you have to go back in, okay who can I help next?  We just, ya know had soldiers that were coming and going. At one point, this was so frustrating, we had evaced some personnel, I believe they were Afghan National Army, we had evaced them and the flight personnel that were trying to evac them to their next destination, to their higher echelon of care .  They brought them back because they felt we did not package them correctly and so in the midst of having multiple patients, some patients were brought back to us. Or they brought patients back in because they felt somebody else  needed to be transported before them. So that added a very special moment of insanity. Because we are in a position to where we are calling people to come and assist, to take notes, to start IVs, to calm patients and yet we have more patients being brought back to us that we have already stabilized. And then in the middle of all of this chaos, we had medics that were assisting with patients that were part of the unit, the hundred and first, and they were getting called out with the rest of their guys, to go out and assist in this skirmish, so to speak, so we were shorthanded. We had probably; I want to say four medics were taken off tables.  Four to six medics were taken off tables at that point and so I was making phone calls to people in my unit saying, I know you are paramedic’s in the real world, can you come o up and help?  We need more hands. And we just had people showing up and we had our veterinarian up there form our unit and we were trying to get people, get as many people as we could to help with the craziness.  Just because it was just…We had gotten slammed so quickly, once they stared coming in, it didn’t seem like it was ever going to stop."

Excerpt from "Iowa Soldiers Remember Afghanistan," Iowa PBS, 2011