11 November 2005

Task Force White Falcon Medics Fight Good Fight


By Pfc. James Wilt
November 10, 2005

TALL AFAR, Iraq (Army News Service, Nov. 10, 2005) – Task Force White Falcon Soldiers provide emergency medical care to Iraqi civilians and Soldiers alike.

Medics from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division are serving in their third deployment.

Our enemy is death

“There is a guy, I can’t remember his name, he said it perfect, ‘In a war zone, your whole mission in life is to kill the enemy and survive;’ our enemy is death. So when we’re fighting, we’re fighting death itself,” said Sgt. 1st Class Tyson E. Bubnar, a combat medic from Port Hueneme, Calif.

On more than one occasion, the medics working in the aid station have been called to battle.

“For the most part we’re treating innocent civilians that get hurt from an IED or Iraqi army soldiers that come in,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel R. Eraso, a combat medic from Winterpark, Fla.

Fighting death, disease and injury, 82nd medics have given aid to the local civilians alongside their own troops, achieving many victories despite the odds against them. More than 200 patients with medical problems ranging from the common cold to gunshot wounds have benefited from White Falcon’s aid station. For most of the team, the hardest part of treating many of their patients is the fact that the patients are children.

Youngest victims of war

“Seeing the kids get injured is the only thing that bothers me,” Eraso said. Shortly after the aid station was set up, a young boy was brought in with 2nd degree burns to his face and right arm. Examining the boy’s eyes, ears and mouth was a priority for the medics.

“With burns on his face, they wanted to ensure he could still see, hear and talk,” said Sgt. Jeremy B. Johns, a combat medic from Yorktown, Va. After establishing that there was no damage to the boy’s senses, medics cooled down the boy’s wounds and scrubbed off all of the burnt skin, Johns said. The skin was removed to prevent infection.

“He was hurting pretty good,” Johns said. “That’s the one thing I noticed about a lot of kids here, they have a really high tolerance for pain, which is good for us in a lot of ways but at the same time it’s pretty sad kids have to be that strong, that young. The boy has returned to the aid station for follow up treatments and is well on his way to a health recovery.” The boy was not the only burn victim the unit has seen. They also treated an 18-month old baby.

“It makes it really hard because we want to do as much as we can for the kids here,” Johns added. The children who enter the aid station get more than medical treatment from the paratroopers, they also get care. Standard issue items for the children include pencils, candy or a stuffed animal.

While helping the people here, the medics are not always successful. Some of their patients suffer from ailments the paratroopers can’t cure.

“It makes it kind of hard when you know that this kid has something that really needs to be worked on and you can’t do anything for him. All we can do is give him a beanie baby and say sorry,” Johns said.

In spite of not being able to help everyone, the medics of White Falcon’s aid station believe they’re making a difference.

Iraqi parents grateful for White Falcon medical support

“You come away with a sense of accomplishment, a sense of actually contributing to the reconstruction of this country,” Franco said. At least two of the local residents here appreciate what the medics are doing.

Following the treatment of a young boy who was bitten by a donkey and found by paratroopers from Company D, his father wrote the medical staff a letter.

“To delta company and the American doctors who treated him, we are very grateful for them and would do anything for them to repay them,” they wrote.

The knowledge and skill to provide medical care to their patients comes from training and experience. Nearly all of the medics in the aid station have been deployed at least three times. Also, “because of being part of an airborne division, they deal with real-world injuries while giving aid to paratroopers who injure themselves parachuting from aircraft,” Bubnar said. The paratroopers are also certified EMTs.

“Every one of them has an EMT Certificate and CPR certificate but if you compare them to your EMT out on the street I’d say they are three times more trained. I almost compare them to paramedics minus the advanced cardiac stuff,” Bubnar said.

(Editor’s note: Pfc. James Wilt serves with Task Force White Falcon, 82d Airborne Division PAO.)

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