View Full Version : Don't fall in the irrigation ditches...

08-15-2011, 03:29 AM
Routine patrols are never routine. This one started out rather comical, as I dismounted with our regular team to check out a POO site near a farm. It was pretty dark out, and we were exercising light and noise discipline while creeping up to a little shack out in a stand of trees. There was a large irrigation ditch right in front of us. Our grid point was on the other side of it.

Being the medic, I'm a little more encumbered than the average rifleman (the 249 gunner has me beat with all that ammo.) In any case, I was a little wary about crossing this ditch to begin with, however our illustrious LT decided we weren't looking for a way around it. "Just jump over it," he says. "Roger, sir." I watched the rest of platoon go. Now it's my turn.

I judge my distance, push off and hope to land on a solid surface right across the water. Unfortunately for me, fate had a different idea in mind. SPLASH! <Lots of cussing> I slipped into what is generally known as the "doo doo water" up to my knees. My weapon was submerged, and the nice shooter's gloves I was wearing had disappeared into the muck when I attempted to protect my face from the demon water.

I get myself up quickly and recover. LT asks me if I'm good to charlie mike. "Roger, sir. I'm just dirty and pissed off." I knock the mud out of my barrel and get back to work. We surround our target site and interrogate the people there who, as usual, don't know anything. Amid the chuckles and jabs, we go back to continue our dismounted counter IDF patrol. Once again, we have to cross this damned ditch.

At this point I'm rather upset with this obstacle. It's not going to defeat me again like this. My aid bag isn't going to overbalance me, and I'm going to make it. WRONG! Round two with the manure mud... This time I attempted to clear the water as I was slipping and half-landed in some rocks. More painful than last time, but I'm fine. These guys can't stop sniggering at me. "Holy crap, doc, you're killing me tonight!" is about all I hear. I want to clean up some now. I've got large chunks of god-knows-what stuck to my gear, and it smells pretty foul.

We make a pit stop at the trucks, so I can at least use a couple bottles of water to get this frightening mess off of me. Wet, dirty, upset and stinky. We charlie mike, only to have a message come back to us that we're to return to the shack and take the door. "I'll pull rear security from across the ditch, sir." "Negative, doc, you're coming with us." "Crap..."

As we come to the familiar site, one of the NCO's says, "Hey look! There's a pathway that goes around the ditch. Let's take that this time." I had to bite my tongue and keep from exclaiming what was really on my mind. OK, we take the door, find nothing and leave. Back to the trucks. Mount up. Roll about 50 meters down the road....BOOM! The road is vaporized in front of the lead vehicle. I made a mad dash around the trucks after 5's and 25's were cleared to check on everyone. We're all good. Thank god. Now back to the fact that I'm covered in poop...

We have to sit there for a few hours, while I'm told that the smell from my uniform is worse than the fact that we were nearly blown up. When I finally get back to base, I still had to re-examine everyone and file a proper MACE report before changing (the jokes are still rolling.) I had to shower three times until I felt clean again.

Lesson learned....don't fall in the ditches, and I signed out an M9 bag. Lighter load on dismounts makes it easier for me to maneuver and not lose my balance.

Army Strong
08-15-2011, 04:02 AM
Good stuff.

Grunt Medic TXARNG
08-15-2011, 10:38 PM
Any more, and I just carry an IFAK that I've plussed up with a surgical airway kit and a bottle of Tylenol - and make sure all of the guys carry their IFAKs as well. I haven't missed the big-ass aid bag yet...

08-16-2011, 11:16 AM
Poor guy, when my husband was in Iraq, his Major's driver took a turn too fast and flipped their vehicle into a doo-doo pond. There were four guys who went under. The Major ended up inhaling quite a bit of the water and getting really sick from it. Everyone was okay, aside from the major who spent a bit of time on quarters. It still makes us all chuckle because this major was quite the arrogant jerk.

Glad you are okay and that you didn't swallow any of that nasty water.

MSG Glenn
08-17-2011, 07:54 AM
It still makes us all chuckle because this major was quite the arrogant jerk. As many Majors are, lol. It's time he got into the shit that he was trying to get hard-working, honest Soldiers in. Now he knows how it feels.

08-24-2011, 07:48 PM
I've got two extra pouches on my vest: (1) Full of kerlix and a couple of ace wraps (I tend to think I could fix a car with gauze and ace wraps), (2) Couple of chest seals, NCD's, Cric kit that I made, Looney Toons band-aids for the kids (for some reason they love bandages). When we have a really long dismounted patrol (several KM from the trucks,) I tend to want to travel with my bag. This is why I've been trying to secure a low-profile bag like the M9/SF one. Our counter-IDF patrols keep getting longer and longer, so it would be nice to lighten the load a bit.

Our supply SGT has SIS (surgical instrument sets) in the M9's in our conex. However, for some reason I'm not allowed to relocate the unused set (that will never get used) and sign the bag out. I'm on R&R for another week or so in the States. So I've been looking around the tactical gear shops here to no avail. I may just have to order one.

Grunt Medic TXARNG
08-24-2011, 10:00 PM
Sounds like some good planning. Some additional thoughts -

You HAVE made sure that all your guys have a 14g IV catheter and alcohol preps in their IFAK, right? It does no good to train them to do a Needle Thoracentesis if they don't have the supplies to perform one with. Regular retraining on signs and symptoms of a Tension Pneumothorax and practicing the psychomotor skills required to perform an NCD are also critical - or they'll freeze when they have to do it for real. While you're at it, have them practice applying the CAT tourniquet to themselves in wierd positions - in the prone, on their back, in a HMMWV seat, only allowed to use one hand, partially disable that one hand by buddy taping 2 or 3 fingers together, etc. - again, they need to practice this until they're sick of it, then drill some more.

Also, a couple of betadine swabs and a scalpel are all you need for a surgical cricothyrotomy kit - if your patient is a GI, that nasopharyngeal airway makes a dandy tube to hold open a surgical crich when needed (and you'll secure it with the roll of tape in his IFAK). And of course since he's already carrying a 14 ga IV catheter for an NCD then you've already got what you need for a needle cricothyrotomy if that's indicated, as well...

08-25-2011, 09:35 AM
Some good tips, Sergeant, I appreciate it. I'll have to try out the awkward tourniquet drills.

I'd like to put an NCD kit in everyone's IFAK. I'll have to see if I can get enough from supply. So far, there are at least 2 in every truck (CLS bag.) I have shown everyone my aid bag also. So they know where to grab one if I'm not right there. My cric kit is pretty ghetto, but it's serviceable. I cut down an ET tube and put the connector back on it and dropped alcohol swabs, a scalpel and an improvised hook (made from a 14g needle...clipped the sharp end off with my gerber and bent it around) into a baggy, along with a syringe for the cuff.