Memories of a Battlefield Nurse
By Louise Eisenbrandt, Army
Writing Type: Poem
By Louise Eisenbrandt
The chopper blades caught the hot wind as the Huey settled down on the square of steamy asphalt outside the emergency room. Whop, whop, whop--that familiar sound announcing the latest arrival of casualties.
They were expected. Minutes earlier, the squawk box on the wall crackled with the announcement. “Three United Sierra. One gunshot. One amputee and one head wound.”
As the dusty whirlwind swirled about, fatigu -clad corpsmen ran with heads bent low to grab the three litters. IVs were started, vital signs taken, clothing cut off. Bodies rolled over to check for hidden wounds. Triage complete, the soldier with the gunshot injury was whisked into the OR where three hours of surgery would debride his wound and remove dead tissue. Chest tubes allowed his lungs to re-expand, and sutures would make him whole again.
The young man missing his left arm, whose right foot came off with his boot, would be in the other surgery suite. His recovery would mean months of therapy and learning to function with artificial limbs.
The third soldier, with the blood-soaked bandage covering his entire face and head, would not be joining his buddies. He was not going to heal. Ever. There was only one treatment we could offer--kindness.
We would hold blood-encrusted hands and “lie” to the dying that everything was going to be all right. We would reassure them as they raised their supplicant voices seeking mothers, wives or girlfriends. As they breathed their final shallow gasp, we would cry as another soul was carried away from the useless war.
When there is nothing left, kindness is the only answer.