I found GRM through an organization called Global Outreach Doctors. I remember contacting them awhile back about being “on-call” for disaster relief missions. I work in an Emergency Department at a level 1 trauma hospital as well as a burn unit, and with this I have had ongoing training for mass casualty incidents, natural disasters and emergency triage management. While I’m happy I haven’t needed to use this at work, I knew that there were other placed in the world that were not so lucky. I wanted to be in a place where I could utilize this training and put my skills to use.
When I arrived to Iraq, I was picked up at the airport and taken to the GRM house where I received a information about the history of the TSP, the current frontline conditions, a safety debriefing, and introduced to the members of the GRM team. The next morning I was off to Mosul. We arrived in trucks and were oriented to our TSPs. I was staying at a Mosque approximately 200 km away from the active combat zone. I became familiar to my environment, learned what medications were in the pharmacy, and met the Iraqi special forces medics I would be working with for the next three weeks. Immediately when I arrived the mosque had a few ambulatory civilian patients. I was at first really intimidated. Providing primary care to patients as an outsider is inherently difficult for many reasons. However, my fellow team members who had been there for weeks or months prior to my arrival jumped right in. Soon enough it felt like being back at work, patients arrived, we rapidly triaged them and tried managed appropriate dispositions based on the resources available.
As the Iraqi forces pushed forward into the old city, our TSP was moved closer to the front and we established a new clinic that assisted with the Army as well as the special forces. This location happened to be right at the entrance of the old city and the main location where humvees could enter, and liberated civilians could exit. There was a lot of human traffic and here we met, saw and treated thousands of patients. The need was so great that other resources were called in and soon an ambulatory primary care clinic arrived, other TSP physicians dropped in to assist, and non-profit organizations helped move patients and provided essential items like food, water and shoes.
This was a very crazy time but it was also incredible to see so many different facets of society working together to try and lesson the suffering of the people of Mosul. I saw a lot of trauma, I felt and witnessed suffering on a scale so vast that I don’t think I’ll ever find words to accurate describe it. Here in Mosul I also saw such resiliency, beauty and strength resonating out of people that I was continuously reminded that our work had a purpose and for as many people as we could reach, I think it made a difference.