Story and photos by U.S. Army Sgt. Laura Bonano
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Helmand Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal visited the Bastion Role 3 Hospital, Jan. 19, to meet and talk with victims of the recent suicide bombing at the Kajaki Sofla Bazaar in Kajaki district, Helmand province.
The governor wanted to relay his concern for the injured and express his sorrow for the devastation caused by the attack. Mangal consoled Afghan patients in the intensive care ward and also several who had come out of surgery. He offered hushed words of encouragement as he leaned in close to touch their heads or hold their hands.
According to Helmand’s Provincial Media Office, three policemen and 10 civilians were killed, and two policemen and 20 civilians were wounded in a suicide attack, Jan. 18. A large number of people who were wounded in the attack were transported to the Bastion Role 3 Hospital on Camp Leatherneck for treatment.
Although the hospital staff had dealt with large numbers of casualties previously, the staff had very little time to respond to the suicide attack, explained British Army Col. Duncan Wilson, the medical director for the Bastion Role 3 Hospital.
“It was quite an unusual event for us, but the hospital is configured to deal with trauma, and we certainly feel we’re ready and responsive enough and flexible enough to deal with large influxes of casualties,” Wilson said.
The colonel explained that in order to react as quickly as possible to the incident, that all hands – both U.K. and U.S. duty staff members, primary care givers, and family practitioners offered their services.
British Army Maj. Paul Wincup said that casualty numbers were first reported as low but were inaccurate.
“Within ten minutes of receiving the first notification of casualties, the numbers started to creep up a little bit, and we realized then that it was probably a much bigger incident than we initially thought,” said Wincup, the second in command at Bastion hospital.
Wincup said the staff demonstrated the high level of clinical expertise expected from all of his personnel and that each knew his or her role triaging the dozens of patients as they began to arrive.
After he finished visiting with patients, Mangal took a moment to recognize the dedication and skill hospital staff showed while treating the Afghans who were injured. He shared his gratitude to both staff and coalition forces.
“I really appreciate, from the bottom of my heart, all you do for Afghans, whatever you do for the people that come here, who get injured. They get treatment,” Mangal said. “Thank you, we appreciate all your effort and support.”
Mangal said that the people of Helmand province will always remember the contributions of the hospital and its staff to the well being of Afghanistan.