By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary DivisionApril 3, 2007
BAGHDAD, March 30, 2007 - As Haifa Street residents begin coming back out into the streets that were once too dangerous to step into, coalition and Iraqi security forces are beginning to lend a much needed hand in many of the basic needs.
So, with hundreds of medical supplies, a few Army medical soldiers and an Iraqi doctor and nurse on hand, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, used an elementary school to perform examinations on hundreds of local citizens during a medical mission in the Haifa Street district of Baghdad, March 24.
"It's really good that they are doing this," said a man who brought his daughter to the clinic. "With the security plan working now, we can come out again."
According to Maj. Bruce Rivers, the 2nd Brigade's surgeon, there hasn't been a medical mission such as this in the Karkh District in a long time. Due to the violence there during the last two years, most of the hospitals and clinics were closed. So, many of the people there have had to do without, said Rivers.
"The goal of this medical mission was to improve on the confidence of the Iraqi people of their medical system," he said. "What I envisioned was both the Iraqi doctors and ISF medical personnel being here."
Within a five-hour period, the team saw more than 230 patients, who were mostly women and children, according to Rivers.
"We treated anything from high blood pressure and diabetes, to respiratory infections and urinary tract infections," he said. Yet, there were many cases that the medical team could not help with. "There were people we could not help," he said sadly. "Their problems were beyond the scope of what we can do."
He said his plan is to work with the National Iraqi Assistance Center and other organizations to seek further care for the people they couldn't help. With hundreds of people waiting in line, a team of medics from Troop B, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, worked with interpreters to screen patients. Spc. Marc Allen, a 4th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment medic from Federal Way, Wash., personally screened more than 100 patients before sending them to one of the rooms inside the makeshift exam area.
Capt. Christopher Dawson, commander, Troop B, 4-9 Calvary Regiment, said missions like this are extremely important because it should be used as a model for future operations.
"The bottom line is that we are (eventually) going away," said the Lima, Ohio native. "We are here supplementing what the (ISF) will plan in the future." According to Dawson, the medical mission wasn't designed to treat everyone.
It was to treat those who could be treated, and for the rest, it was supposed to get them by until they could seek proper medical attention.
His troop, along with the local Iraqi National Police, provides security to the hundreds of residents who came to seek medical attention.
"We've been doing a few humanitarian missions with the security being better," Dawson said. "And in the past couple of months, it's gotten better ... they are thirsting for security here. We started the constant presence - day-to-day you can see the little stuff, but that little stuff adds up."
Capt. Gene Palka, the 4-9 Operations officer, said the medical mission went well. In the future, Rivers said he hopes that hospitals and clinics will eventually start opening up in that area because the people there really need the medical attention. "
The people really like us being there," he said. "Every time we go, we get a really warm reception."