Friday, 31 August 2007

A Tour of FOB Salerno Hospital

Who is in Afghanistan, saving lives and easing suffering of US and Coalition casualties and injured Afghan civilians, I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the people here at the Salerno Hospital.

LtCol Howard Phillipi,
Chief Nurse

Mike and Fred
on duty
in the Hosptial HQ

The most important
part of our hospital is the people.

We’re an eclectic mix of Army and Air Force, Active Duty and Reserve, old and young. We’re half Army, half Air Force. We come from all over the country; from Washington State, California, Maine, Florida and everywhere in between.

We’ve got Active duty Army and Air Force, Army and Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard.

Our youngest Soldier is 19; our oldest Soldier is 55 years old.

Jena, Sara, Patrict
X-ray and
Respiratory Therapy

Catie (patient?),
Loretta, Danielle,
and Susan

On the WARD

We are a trauma unit. We don’t care for many sick people.
We deal with lots of trauma; gunshot wounds, blast injuries, motor vehicle accidents and falls, to name a few.

Lots of open fractures.
Lots of penetrating injuries.
Lots of amputations.
And Lots of other things not suitable for this blog.

Chrystal and Angela
OR Tech
OR Nurse

Ready for a Patient

The controlled chaos

of the Emergency Room

Combat Trama

Cpt James Goode

Cleaning up after the MASCAL

(Mass Casualty Event)

We’ve got all the important parts of a hospital:

Operating Room, Intensive Care Ward, X-Ray, Laboratory, Pharmacy and even a CT scanner, but we're still in tents with wooden floors. The FOB itself is still very primitive. On our FOB there are no paved streets. When it rains, it floods. The hospital floods, the streets flood, the gym floods.

If you wear your rubber boots, you’re fine. Otherwise, you get wet feet.

So there it is, a peek inside our facility,

a peek at our people and our home.

(I thought it would be interesting to all who have followed this blog for the past eight months.)

Thank you

for reading and praying and caring.

Thank you

for remembering the Soldiers in Afghanistan, the “other” war.

Phillips, OUT

Thursday, 30 August 2007

We've got a reporter from Stars and Stripes with us for a few days.

Such simple words from Phillips, but what a story.

The story of our warriors and the treatment they receive at FOB Salerno Hospital is nothing new to anyone at Richard's Deployment to Afghanistan. Afghan Nationals receiving the same great treatment, and the their gratitude, again is nothing new to the reader's of Phillips' blog.

But it is gratifying to see it recognized by Stars and Stripes.

You can contact Bryan Mitchell, Stars and Stripes to thank him for the article: . --Haole--

Stars & Stripes
Front page:

Spc. Jeffrey Ellis on Wednesday holds up a piece of shrapnel that hit him in a suicide bomber attack the previous day. It was removed from his body but he's expected to receive further care in Germany.

Stars & Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, August 30, 2007
Bryan Mitchell / S&S

Soldier, Afghan children recovering from suicide blast

I promise Rich's pictures and blog will be forthcoming.

Phillips isn't procrastinating, he's thinking . . .

FOB Salerno Hospital is taking care of business.

I want to take advantage of a rare opportunity to officially issue personal thanks in the form of Gratitude and Prayers for all our FOB Salerno Hospital warriors.

I am proud of the job they do, and the people they are.
(There are pictures coming. . . )

I know all of you appreciate this group of guys, gals and their families.

-- Haole Wahine--

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Just Another Day at the FOB ......

Sometimes I wonder why I am so happy here. But when I think about it, most Soldiers I work with here are happy. The media seems to highlight the disenchanted, unhappy Soldiers but in my experience they are in the minority. For me, sometimes I feel guilty for being happy here, for enjoying life on (and off) the FOB. I know this deployment is harder on my family than it is on me. I’ve got free food, free laundry, free movies, free gym membership and free time. Back home they’ve got to deal with real life and all the complexities that involves. And they have to worry about me.

I think about the past, where I came from to get here. I think about the future, what I’m going to do when I get home. But I live in the present and enjoy the job I’m doing here, even on the hardest days. And for us here at the hospital the hardest days are those where we lose a fellow Soldier. We’ve lost a few patients recently, some to enemy action and some to accidents. That takes a toll on all of us here at the hospital. There was a time when I could remember all the deaths in the hospital, by face if not by name. That was some time ago now. I have learned the hard way that at a trauma hospital in combat not every patient will have a good outcome.

But for me, the best days on the FOB are actually off the FOB. Recently I had the opportunity to visit our local Provincial Hospital in the city of Khowst. I’ve been there often enough that it feels very familiar to me. We were visiting the hospital director and conducting some training. Our relationship with the Provincial Hospital is good, and getting better all the time.

It’s also the site of the suicide bomber in February. In fact, I took a picture in front of the wall near where the bomber detonated. The damage has not been repaired so you can see some of the effects of the bomb. I’d like to say that he was the last suicide bomber in Khowst, but unfortunately that is not the case. In fact, he turned out to be only the first of many suicide bombers in 2007.

But Khowst offers many more entertaining and safe sights and sounds. Right outside the hospital I followed a few goats wandering in the road. Since my daughter raises sheep I thought she would enjoy this picture of goats wandering in the road. It is a common sight; goats and sheep and even cows and donkeys. Mostly they are guided or herded, but sometimes they are just wandering.

And we spent some time at an old fort just outside of Khowst.

The locals told us stories of the fort’s role in the war against the Soviet Union back in the 80’s. In Germany or France it would be a tourist attraction. Here, it’s an operational fort, a garrison for Afghan security forces. And a great place from which to take pictures.

Here’s a view of the mosque in Khowst, Afghanistan.

It's huge, and beautiful.

I’ve seen it from the road outside, from the air above and now from a hilltop in town.

And even from inside, the views of the surrounding countryside are great.

Like all castles, it’s got a tower from which you can see everything around and below.

I don’t think I’ll be moving to Khowst anytime soon, but like the rest of Afghanistan it’s got a lot of potential. It could be a lovely place, much like a resort town in Arizona, if it weren’t for the suicide bombers and ambushes and rockets and mortars.

Mostly, I’m very happy. Mostly, I work with happy people.

We all look forward to going home,

but most of us enjoy our jobs,

enjoy the adventure

and enjoy the camaraderie of being here and serving our country.

As always, may God Bless you all.

Phillips, out.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

The Future . . .

In my last post I looked back, to where we came from and where we have been on this deployment. I thought it only appropriate that in this post I look forward, to where we are going, to where I am going.

Most of us, maybe all of us, look forward to the future, to going home. Like a 16 year old waiting to turn 18, or a 19 year old waiting to turn 21, we wait and hope and dream about some time in the future. For us, that future event is completing this deployment and heading home.

So, what do we look forward to? Mostly, just going home and doing the simple things, but also to grand vacations and life changing events. Simple things like driving a car are always exciting after being deployed. If we drove at home like we drive here we would get arrested! But just the freedom to drive, when and where we want, it exhilarating.

And of course, there’s plenty of time to plan grand vacations and exciting adventures. Vacations to exotic lands, marriage, divorce, new jobs and new lives are all things I know people are planning for and dreaming of while they are here.

In our hospital we have Soldiers and Airmen who are here for a variety of tour lengths; 90 days, 120 days, 180 days, 365 days and even some for 15 months. It makes for quite a diverse work environment. Some are planning to go home while others are not even half-way through their tour! We bond quickly, and separate painfully, and then the cycle begins again.
By the time I finish this deployment I will have worked with four different USAF rotations and four different USAR rotations, plus all the individuals who backfill during R&R leave. In all, after 12 months here with my 45-man hospital I will have worked with over 100 different individual staff members! That’s a lot of turnover in just 12 months. That’s a lot of dreams and future plans.

And why do we focus on the future? Well, the present is either boring or tragic. Boring, because we’ve seen every inch of the FOB and every route between here and wherever we need to go off the FOB. Because we’ve solved the same problems three time since we’ve been here, and we’ll solve it three more times before we leave. Tragic, because we’ve become immune to the blood and pain and death we see every day. Because we wonder if we will ever be the same after this experience and we wonder if anyone will understand when we cry or laugh or just sit quietly, alone and silent with our thoughts and memories.

So, the future becomes a wonderful dream, because it is a future away from here. The future becomes a time to fulfill dreams and live life to the fullest, thankful every day for having survived this ordeal, and yet always feeling slightly guilty for having survived this ordeal when others did not.

And for me, my future is bright. My future is my family and my life with them. No big plans, just a slow, controlled reintegration back in to my family.

One day I will be back with my wife, who supported me for a year in Iraq and is now supporting me during this tour in Afghanistan.

I will be back with my daughter, Beckie, the Grand Champion FFA sheep girl at Heritage High School.

And I’ll be back with my daughter, Katie, the future pilot and honorary Red Hat Society member.

And I’ll be able to see my son, Jeremy, the college student and all-around good guy.

Thank you for reading and caring and praying. I’ll keep blogging, even when there’s nothing new to say. I’ll keep blogging so you can stay connected to what your Soldiers, your children, your friends and loved ones are experiencing here at FOB Salerno, and wherever they are deployed.

Phillips, out.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Week 27--- Busy, busy, busy .......

We're busy, busy, busy .............
Taking care of business. Details, later.

In case you ever wondered how we get our supplies here in Afghanistan.

(Choose your own caption and add it to a comment.)

As always, thanks for reading this blog, praying for us and supporting your troops.

Phillips, out.