- Joined May 31, 2006
The Battle of Brooklyn: Military docs learn from NYC 'war zones'
By JOSH SAUL
Last Updated: 3:46 AM, October 31, 2012
Posted: 12:51 AM, October 31, 2012
Paul Martinka 'WAR' ZONE: US military pararescue troops Erik (left) and Ron (right) get hands-on training at Brownsville’s Brookdale Hospital (above) treating injuries inflicted by city thugs.
The city’s war zone is the best place to train battlefield medics.
Elite US military rescue units prepare for combat at Brownsville’s Brookdale Hospital, where gangbangers inflict devastating gunshot and knife wounds similar to what they’ll see in Afghanistan.
Air Force Pararescue operatives perform the most dangerous and extreme missions — to save and then treat injured soldiers they lift out of hostile territory.
“We’ve had guys say they’ve been more comfortable in Kabul than in East New York,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Rush, a doctor who founded the Brookdale program.
“They couldn’t believe the projects. It’s like another world.”
There were 55 murders last year in Brownsville and East New York, neighborhoods served by the hospital.
When a Jamaican man was slashed in the face on a city bus and rushed to Brookdale earlier this year, a surgeon showed two eager Pararescuemen how to sew up a still-gushing severed facial artery.
“He literally came into the ER holding his face with the blood dripping down his arm and onto the floor,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Russillo, 35, a “PJ” who currently serves in an undisclosed overseas location. (The rescuers call themselves PJs, which stands for “Para Jumper.”)
“There was a trail of blood from where he walked into the ER to the back of the trauma room.”
The hands-on practice is crucial for men who’ll treat trauma patients in a hostile environment — and Brookdale sometimes qualifies as one. One doctor recently had part of her finger bitten off by a hostile patient.
“You want to have that experience so that private so-and-so with a double amputation isn’t your first live patient,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Joseloff, 34, who also trained at Brookdale and now serves overseas.
“When you first roll up on something gnarly, the tendency is to think, ‘Oh my God!’ and just freeze, but we’ve taken all that out now. The ‘wow factor’ is gone.”
Rush spent over a year creating the “New York Pararescue Medical Capabilities Program” and PJs have now been training at Brookdale for three years.
Brookdale is the only place where the PJs — who undergo rigorous training that washes out 80 percent of the candidates — get real-time hands-on experience.
“The weapons that are used here are different most of the time from what they encounter overseas, but the principles are basically the same,” said Dr. Allen Cherson, Brookdale’s assistant director of emergency medicine.
The connection between Middle Eastern battlefields and top-notch New York City medicine makes for an efficient transfer of knowledge.
“When we have a question about what kind of antibiotic you use for a certain gunshot wound, I speak to the neurosurgeon at Bellevue. There’s no better,” said Rush, who is also a Manhattan doctor.
“Then I take that knowledge and transfer it to the battlefield, so we’re not waiting years for this stuff to filter down from the ivory tower.”
The grueling work performed by the PJs has been dramatized in movies like “Blackhawk Down” and “The Perfect Storm.” There are about 500 PJs and they have performed over 12,000 combat rescue missions since 9/11. The PJ motto is, “These Things We Do, That Others May Live.”
Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/the_battle_of_brooklyn_Za3lHjmMl8wjfhbkpv1AtK#ixzz2AtL78Tc8