Television

CNN doc looks at the hospital emergency scene in Iraq

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MUMBAI: News broadcaster CNN will air the documentary CNN Presents : Combat Hospital. It looks at the life and death struggles that the medical team face every day in the Iraqi capital’s military emergency rooms at the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad. It airs today 11 November at 8:30 pm and on 12 November at 12:30 pm and 8:30 pm.

With access to the five doctors, 14 nurses and 22 medics who treat casualties from US and coalition forces, the civilian population and even insurgents, in a building that Saddam Hussein once used for his own personal medical care, the show reveals the horror and humanity of present day Iraq.

Presented without narration, the programme looks at the American military’s frontline hospital starkly depicted with the daily challenges that face the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad. Graphic video and natural sound reflect the reality of the chaos and heroism in a wartime emergency room: gunshot wounds, burns, amputations and other devastating damage caused by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Filmed during 16 days of exclusive access to the “Mountain Medic” Combat Support Hospital by CNN Baghdad bureau chief Cal Perry, CNN senior photojournalist Dominic Swann, and CNN's Ryan Chilcote, viewers see why the maturity and professionalism required in a combat emergency setting are hard-earned.

A young nurse, Lt. Riane Nelson, R.N., talks ruefully about how she was “picked” to come to Iraq after being called to replace another nurse who became pregnant shortly before her tour of duty.

Nelson’s supervisor, head nurse Lt. Col. John Groves, describes the back story of Nelson’s early inability to keep up with the requirements of their busy unit. Then, Nelson worked with other personnel to resuscitate a critical patient with CPR, saving her life. After that, says Groves, “her confidence skyrocketed.” By the time viewers meet Nelson, she is a self-assured and proficient team member, saving more lives during the programme.

Outside of the emergency room, the unit tries to maintain some normality by playing football and baseball in the alley behind the hospital and even celebrating a co-workers 21st birthday.

In one of the most compelling sequences in the documentary, the film crew captures the arrival of 12 casualties during a few moments of relative quiet for the medical team. Four are already dead. Seven U.S. soldiers and CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier are critically injured and fighting for their lives. The team goes back to work; their trauma rooms are full again.

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