1st Cavalry News
‘Charlie Med’ Saves Boy’s Life
By Pfc. Nathaniel Smith
4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs
BAGHDAD – On the evening of March 15, the medics of Company C, 610th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, saved a four year-old Iraqi boy’s life after the child had fallen on a steak knife. The knife was successfully removed from the boy’s neck with only minimal damage to his thyroid gland, a relatively minor injury compared to what could have happened.
Capt. Ross Witters, the battalion surgeon for 610th BSB, said luck was on the boy’s side.
“He’s about as lucky as you can get,” Witters said. “He should have went out and bought a lottery ticket.”
Lost in the recounting of the story is that in lesser hands the boy may not have been so lucky. This patient’s success is a sign of abilities of the “Charlie Med” medics, Witters said.
“It reflects very highly on their skill and their level of training,” the Omaha, Neb., native said. “They have some of the most outstanding (noncommissioned officers) and officers that I’ve ever had the honor of working with.”
Witters said the reason the medics are so good at what they do is their continual drive to make themselves better. The Soldiers work to improve themselves and hone their skills every day, he said. Whenever they are needed quickly to respond to an emergency situation, they respond hastily and effectively.
In addition to trauma treatment, Charlie Med is responsible for running sick-call at Camp Falcon, supporting all medical care on the base through their clinic, supporting the 4th BCT at combat outposts, on flight operations, and aiding the explosive ordnance disposal teams.
Charlie Med also provides level 2 facilities to other units at the camp, such as laboratories, emergency rooms, x-rays, and physical therapy equipment.
Providing these services to Camp Falcon has not come without challenges. The main problems the medics have faced are a lack of space and communication difficulties.
1st Sgt. James Fales, the first sergeant for C Co., 610th BSB, said that the medics can never have enough space, but the communication problems actually benefit the medics through practice.
“We spin up a lot for things that don’t happen, but that’s just the nature of our work,” the Tonganoxie, Kan. native said. “It keeps the edge sharp.”
Rehearsals, as Company C has come to call such spin-ups, are one way to keep the unit trained and ready. Another method, the method the Centaurs use to make training seem more realistic, is stress.
“This is an unpleasant task,” Fales said. “The only way to benefit the Soldier is to realize that you staying calm and methodically doing your job is the only way you’re going to benefit that person.“Getting over-stressed or getting tunnel-vision is not going to be beneficial to that patient, ever.”The first sergeant said that the medics train with an unrealistic amount of stress in order to over-stress the Soldiers so they learn how to overcome that pressure.
The unit experienced 24 hours of mass casualties during 4th Brigade’s rotation at the National Training Center, which is unrealistic, but assisted in making the Soldiers understand the stress factor.
Trainers from Fort Sam Houston also put Company C through a training evolution prior to deployment with the same thought in mind.
“The only way you get medics to understand the real deal is to overstress them,” Fales said.
In training, Company C trained to deal with tense situations. Already, the medical team has shown that training has paid off.
“This is one of the most outstanding groups of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Witters said. “This group here has come together in a way that I have never seen, even in a medical setting.
“Now we do the best we can with what ever gets thrown at us.”
An x-ray taken by Company C, 610th Brigade Support Battalion, known as “Charlie Med,” shows a steak knife buried in the throat of an Iraqi boy. Surgeons and medics treating the boy safely removed the knife, which struck no arteries or vessels. The 610th BSB is a part of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo)