Members from the Government Services chapter of ACEP reflect on memories from their time serving overseas
“We left things in a better state than when we got there”
Mark Antonacci, MD, FACEP
I deployed several times during my time on active duty, but my most memorable deployment was in 2010 as part of an Embedded Training Team based out of forward operating base Lindsey in Kandahar Province. My team worked with the Afghan Army doctors, nurses, medics, and ancillary staff on a daily basis in their facility. It was (and likely still is) the wild West of Afghanistan. Processing the events of the U.S. withdrawal over the last few months has been difficult. I just try to focus on the fact that we left things in a better state than when we got there. We were able to make life a little easier for many folks (especially the women and children) who otherwise would not have had access to any medical care. The individuals we trained were able to provide a standard of care to the local population well above the existing civilian medical system. I can only hope some of that care we provided has persisted despite the current Taliban regime.
“You Really Lean On Your Training”
Roderick Fontenette, MD, FACEP
While deployed in 2014 in Afghanistan, this picture was taken of the tactical critical care evacuation transport team (TCCET). As a member of TCCET, I was deployed far forward to care for members wounded at the point of injury and begin moving them toward a higher level of care. As an emergency physician deployed to resource-limited environments, you really lean on your training and focus on hemorrhage control and damage control resuscitation. On this deployment, we worked in the back of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. The skills acquired in residency are instrumental when helping manage critically injured patients.
“We Saved Them for a Good Life”
Torree McGowan, MD, FACEP
One of the most impactful things that happened to me when I was deployed was having Operation Proper Exit come through my hospital. These men and women had been wounded in previous tours and were coming back through the country to see where they had been cared for. Most of them remembered getting hit and then would wake up at Brooke Army or Walter Reed and have a huge chunk of their life missing. Proper Exit let them come back and begin to process their trauma. Every one of them, most of whom were multiple amputees, had significant burns, and had survived other severe trauma, said we saved them for a good life. That kept me fighting to save them, no matter how badly they were injured.