Erin Trieb

The War In Afghanistan: Behind The Frontlines

Made of plywood and housed in a small tent, it might not look like much from the outside. But here, on a dusty, remote military base in the heart of Logar Province, is the US army's busiest emergency room in Eastern Afghanistan. This is the 8th Forward Surgical Team (FST) trauma centre, where the clinic doors are always open and there is rarely a quiet moment. Its staff of five medics, five nurses, four technicians and two chief surgeons treat anybody seeking medical attention including US troops, the Afghan National Army and local civilians.

As the medevac Blackhawk helicopters leave the base to pick up casualties the clinic's gurneys continue to fill with patients, from US troops injured in IED explosions or RPG contact to Afghan soldiers with gunshot wounds. It is typical to find over 30 medical personnel in the tent, working frantically to stop arterial bleeding, move patients in to the surgery theatre or simply offer comfort to those in pain. Captain Michelle Racicot, the FST's Emergency Room RN, describes her job as "tough" and "busy", explaining that the staff often work through the night in order to treat the wounded. During their five month deployment in Afghanistan the 8th FST has so far treated over 350 patient cases. "This job is the most challenging I have ever had because of the reality of the situations we run across, but it is also the most rewarding," Racicot says.