Wayne: Can you tells us about your involvement in saving the life of the Romanian soldier in March?
Lt. Trosper: At the Role 3, when we have more patients come in at once than we have trauma teams, it’s considered a mass casualty event. When the team of Romanians was hit by a VBIED (vehicle borne improvised explosive device) they came to us directly from the field as a mass cal. I was still working in ICU at that time and was tasked as one of the flight line leaders due to my qualification as an en route care nurse. On the flight line we wait with our ambulance team for the birds (helicopters) to land so we can transport the patients to the trauma bay. Once the birds touched down one of the trauma nurses ran to it and started bringing the patient on the litter towards my ambulance. I vividly remember seeing someone grab the soldiers dangling, mostly amputated, arm and place it back on his body. It was the moment I realized where I really was and the injuries I’d be caring for over my tour. When he was put into the rig I asked the flight medic if he was even alive as his color was grey…not blue or white…but grey. The medic shook his head yes. I jumped into the rig with the medic and one of my corpsman to take the 30 second ride to the trauma bay. The soldier was only breathing agonally (not breathing adequately to sustain life) and was intubated almost immediately upon arrival to the trauma bay. During his resuscitation he was given CPR as well as a resuscitative thoracotomy (meaning they created a hole in his chest in order to internally massage his heart). He was wheeled into the OR to further assess his internal wounds as quickly as they could.
This was my first real experience with traumatic amputation and battlefield injuries. I went back to the barracks after the bays cleared as I had to work that night in the ICU. I didn’t sleep very well as I kept seeing his ashen face in my head. Returning to work that evening I walked into the ICU and was greeted by his pink face in front of me! I was his nurse that night and even though he still had a breathing tube in he woke up and was writing notes to me and communicating all night. He had come through the experience and was even joking around with the staff. He cried when he learned of the loss of his arm… and again when he found out on of the men that had been with him had died in the explosion. I cried with him. It was amazing that he was even alive. We truly do miracles at this hospital.