Police attention helps burned boy
December 29, 2007
BAGHDAD - For Yousef Kasim, living in the Five Farms area of Baghdad is a challenge.
His family lives in a mud brick home, with no running water or electricity; in a place, where until recently, Al Qaeda terrorists roamed the area generating a swath of destruction.
Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces helped Yousef and his family by first clearing the area of terrorists and again Dec. 13 when they treated the boy's severe burns.
That day, Yousef was chasing the family kitten around the family's outdoor oven when his pants snagged on a grate covering the fire pit; he tripped and landed in the stew his mother was cooking causing severe burns from his right hip down to his right knee.
The terrorists had been forced out by a combination of 30,000 U.S. troops surged into Baghdad, and the Iraqi National Police allowing Yousef to be seen by competent medical personnel.
It was one of those policemen who noticed the badly burned boy while passing out candy and informed American medics who treated Yousef.
Upon arriving at the family's home Dec. 13, Charlotte native, Staff Sgt. Antonio Ellison, the 1-2-1 National Police Training Team medic squeezed into the small house along with the boy's family, NPs and fellow Soldiers; quickly assessed the boy's burns were major and began immediate treatment. He gave the Yousef some pain medicine and lotion for the burns he characterized as "real bad second degree burns over nine percent of the boys body."
"When we first saw him, he wouldn't eat or sleep, he would just lay there crying," said Ellison, who trained with his training team at Fort Riley, Kan., Dec. 20 when his unit and the national police visited the family a third time.
During the second visit, the boy was much better.
"Four days (after being treated) he got up and was walking around, and yesterday he started to wear clothes over the burn site," he added.
On Dec. 20, the medics and the policemen returned to the family's home for the third time to check the youngster's condition and to give him a much needed haircut.
"It is painful for me to see the people who have suffered so long from Al Qaeda," said Lt. Col. Rassan Gassid, the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi National Police Division commander after seeing the boy, who is much better than the first time they met. "It makes me proud that one of my policemen found him."
On third visit, the burns were largely scabbed over, but he still needed more lotion to help the area heal properly.
"Put this on him before he goes to bed every night," Ellison said to his mother.
Yousef's mother was visibly happy for the attention her son and family were getting and said she couldn't think of words to describe how she felt.
"Honestly, there are no words I can tell you," said Saadya Ibrahim with a huge grin. "They are always coming around to take care of us."
She added that she is always asking God to keep the policemen and their American counterparts safe as they go about their duties.
For one of the American Soldiers witnessing the attention Yousef and his family was getting the scene reminded him of his own family in Germany.
Elgin, Ill. Native, Staff Sgt. Joseph Geier, a platoon sergeant with Company D, 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment who is one his second tour in Iraq said he was proud the boy was getting help, but that it makes him proud his children are safe at home.
"I have done many humanitarian missions," the father of a daughter Katelynn, 4, and son Christopher, 2, said. "These types of missions are good. But I just hope my kids never have to go through this."
Yousef reminded more than just one person of their family.
Gassid added that Yousef is "like one of my sons" and is a good boy and would have helped him even if he wasn't a fellow countryman.
"Even if he was not from Iraq we would have helped him," said the commander, who had moments before given the boy a haircut before playing a little soccer with him. "We all work on the same team."