For­eign medics treat chil­dren in Iraq’s Mo­sul Mount­ing ca­su­al­ties in torn city

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MO­SUL: For­eign medics are help­ing Iraqi spe­cial forces per­son­nel treat a grow­ing num­ber of chil­dren wounded by in­tense ur­ban war­fare in­side the ji­hadist-held city of Mo­sul. Car bombs, sniper fire and booby traps have led to mount­ing ca­su­al­ties in the east of the city, where ad­vanc­ing Iraqi troops are bat­tling Is­lamic State group fight­ers.

Three for­eign medics work­ing with the Academy of Emer­gency Medicine, a Slo­vakian char­ity, have teamed up with more than a dozen Iraqi spe­cial forces med­i­cal per­son­nel to treat wounded civil­ians and sol­diers. Their sparsely equipped field clinic is set up in an open court­yard on the only route out for flee­ing civil­ians.

Fewer than a dozen green cots are or­ga­nized into rows, flanked by two am­bu­lances and sev­eral crates of gauze, in­tra­venous drips, and other med­i­cal sup­plies pur­chased with do­na­tions to AEM. Slo­vakian medic Marek Adamik says most of the ca­su­al­ties he has treated have been from makeshift bombs or sniper fire-some “di­rectly tar­geted with head shots.”

The char­ity’s coun­try man­ager, Peter Reed, has just fin­ished tend­ing to the first civil­ian ca­su­alty of the day, a young girl in pink py­ja­mas with a shrap­nel wound to her right leg.

Sport­ing a thick, straw­ber­ry­blond beard, the for­mer US Marine says he came to Iraq in 2015 to join the fight against IS. But after months with­out see­ing com­bat, Reed be­gan treating wounded Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers be­fore “re­al­iz­ing there’s a need for civil­ian treat­ment on the front lines.”

‘Kids are the worst’

In the space of just three days this week, AEM and Iraqi medics treated a 12-year-old whose right leg was nearly blown off by a mor­tar round, a scrawny boy hurt when he picked up a mine, and a girl wounded in a car bomb­ing that killed her en­tire fam­ily.

“Kids. Kids are the worst,” Reed says, shak­ing his head. “Adults and small chil­dren stay in­side. Kids es­pe­cially boys-like to go out­side and be ad­ven­tur­ous.” Wounded civil­ians are brought to the field clinic in the back of pick-up trucks or on the hoods of ar­mored Humvees. It is still too dan­ger­ous for their few am­bu­lances to make the one-kilo­me­ter jour­ney to the front line.

AEM staff and Iraqi paramedics work to­gether to stop bleed­ing or dress wounds, with Reed of­ten bark­ing or­ders in English that a stocky Iraqi man trans­lates to his col­leagues. Ur­gent cases-like the young mor­tar fire vic­tim-are trans­ported by am­bu­lance to hos­pi­tal in Ar­bil, the Kur­dish re­gional cap­i­tal, some 80 kilo­me­ters to the east.

To re­lax after treating pa­tients, Reed and fel­low Amer­i­can medic Derek Cole­man, 27, guz­zle down en­ergy drinks and munch on choco­late. “I ended up here as a for­eign fighter, and then I saw there was a need for med­i­cal (work),” Cole­man, from New Jer­sey, says.

Lift­ing his grey base­ball cap to pat down his messy ch­est­nut hair, he tells AFP he is brac­ing him­self for a wave of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties as Iraqi troops push deeper into Mo­sul. “Also, if there’s no fight­ing to keep Daesh busy, they may have more op­por­tu­nity to tar­get civil­ians,” he adds, us­ing an Ara­bic acro­nym for IS that its mem­bers con­sider pe­jo­ra­tive.

Reed, Cole­man, and Adamik spend all day with Iraqi first aiders, then bed down with them in a nearby aban­doned home to the sound of in­ter­mit­tent gun­fire or shelling. Even on slow days, they look worn out by the af­ter­noon. “Less pa­tients mean you re­mem­ber cer­tain ones much more vividly,” says Reed.

MO­SUL: Front line medics from the Iraqi Spe­cial Forces 2nd di­vi­sion and vol­un­teers from the Slo­vak char­ity Academy of Emer­gency Medicine treat an Iraqi girl with a shrap­nel wound at an out­door field clinic in the Samah neigh­bor­hood†on Tues­day.

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