Last night a new show premiered on National Geographic Channel called “Inside Combat Rescue“. The show centered around a unit (The pararescuers or PJ’s) that was dedicated to rescuing wounded soldiers during combat. One of the phrases that was repeated in the trailers leading up to the premier was, “Ride with the airmen who rescue the fallen”.
The show was pretty cool and kept my attention the entire time. We got to meet a few of the PJ’s and hear their stories while following them through a couple missions.
We first meet Eric, a young airman/father from NH on his 1st tour. His wife sends him pictures of their daughter as often as possible and they video chat pretty frequently. He knows his tour will be full of awful things and he says, ”I know I’m going to experience things I’ve never experienced before”. He misses being at home but he enjoys what he does. He’s glad to be able to help injured soldiers and feels “blessed that [he] was born in America”.
Next we meet Brett from CA who is serving his 5th tour. He is the most experienced of the PJ’s on his team and he hopes he can use his experience to help some of the guys on their first deployment. One thing he learned early on was that things were really bad over there and he needed to find a way to cope. “I just put up a shield. I block it out”. We later learn that he has received orders for a 6th tour already.
Other airmen we meet include: Steven from NC, Trevor from WA, and Matt from AK. All of them seemed to be very proud of what they did for the military. Some had seen some pretty horrible things during their time but they were all ready to lay their lives down to save a fellow soldier.
The first order the group received was to retrieve several injured soldiers in Kandahar City, “the birthplace of the Taliban”. Two helicopters are sent into the city and one stayed in the air to provide cover and information while the other landed to receive the wounded. Once they’re loaded up they head for the hospital.
On their way out of the city the helicopters come under fire and have to deploy defensive flares. The flight to the hospital takes less than ten minutes, bringing the entire call to around half an hour or so. These guys really know what they’re doing.
The next call was pretty sad. Two children were injured by what was believed to be an IED. One is conscious and the other is not. Both are reported to have very serious injuries. The teams load up and await their orders but are eventually told to stand down. “MEDROE” (Medical rules of engagement) prevent the airmen from attempting to rescue the children since it was not our soldiers who injured them. Many of the men seemed saddened by the call but all agreed it wasn’t their call to make.
The next and final call came during the am/pm shift change. There was an IED explosion and a soldier was badly injured. Believing it’s a fellow member of the special forces, one of the airmen at the base says, “Hopefully it wasn’t the medic”. The injured man was in fact the medic and his condition was critical. “Take care of him for us, he’s a good dude”, one soldier says over the radio as the helicopter heads to the hospital with the medic on board.
The man is losing a lot of blood and needs a blood transfusion before they reach the hospital. Unfortunately there is a problem with the IV and they’re forced to inject blood directly into the bone through a special procedure (I didn’t catch the name or fully understand the procedure) that was extremely painful.
At the hospital, the soldier is conscious. He tells the doctor, “I was riding my motorcycle and hit an IED.” He then goes on to ask for medication and begs “please knock me out”. The PJ’s leave and learn several hours later that the medic survived his operations and was headed home
If you’re into shows about the military at all, give this one a go. You get an inside look at some of our military medics in action. Hard to imagine these guys are my age and flying helicopters into enemy territory to save fallen soldiers. Really hard to imagine. But I’m glad they’re over there doing it.
“Inside Combat Rescue” airs on Mondays at 10pm on the National Geographic Channel. Here’s one of the trailers for the show:
** Corrections made on 2/20/13 – Thanks for bringing them to my attention, Mike **