A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

December 9, 2015

A New Reality and A New Kind of Doctor: Urban Battlefield Medic

     Amid the human and personal stories being revealed in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terrorist attack comes a rather intriguing one.  It is the story of Dr. Michael Neeki, a trauma physician and emergency room doctor at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Colton, California, where many of the victims of that tragedy were transported.
Dr. Neeki at a press conference for the
victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
     But Dr. Neeki wears many hats.  He is the chief medical officer of San Bernardino County's probation department and also volunteers as a member of the Inland Valley SWAT team.  He is the only physician/medic on the team, and he trains alongside his fellow SWAT team members for just such a scenario as San Bernardino.  And he is uniquely qualified.
     He was born in Iran and drafted into the Iran/Iraq war at age 18.  He served his native country in war and believes this gives him valuable experience in treating victims of gun violence, or as he puts it, "[I am] mentally and tactically a little more experienced than the other physicians here."  But in 1988, he was forced to leave his homeland after suffering as a political prisoner because of his opposition to the increasingly radical and religious Iranian regime.  Twenty-seven years later, in his adopted homeland of America, he put those skills and mindset to work as he labored, not only to mend and heal, the victims of San Bernardino, but to protect them from the rampage.
     When the first calls went out, he grabbed his rifle and tactical equipment and headed for the "hot zone", where he could put his tactical training to good use, as well as utilizing the medical pack that he carries.  "You have to be ready to put in a tourniquet to avoid the bleeding, or quickly staple a wound in the field. Or use an Israeli bandage, which is a compression dressing. I also have a clotting factor you could put in a lesion."
     So now, as a member of the Rialto SWAT team, he is working to upgrade the medical assistance that his team members can deliver in the field.  He's certified to carry a gun and participates in the team's tactical drills.  His experience on the battlefield is increasingly valuable today because injuries such as those seen in the San Bernardino shootings have become more common. "So, we saw this rifle injury-type pattern, which rips and shreds apart organs in your body, tissues in the body, and vessels as they're going through."
     Sadly, this is becoming the reality that our emergency medicine doctors must face.  I fear that the attacks in California last week will not be the last.  Western civilization's enemy has made it clear that they wish to inflict as much carnage as they are able to, and that they are not limiting their attacks to Europe.  Therefore, because of his unique background and experience, Dr. Neeki now wants to expand the emergency medicine residency at ARMC to give young doctors the exposure they need to such mass casualties, and at the same time, elevate the skill levels of [SWAT] paramedic team members.
     Dr. Neeki envisions ARMC residents (and doctors throughout the country) playing roles in the developing field of tactical medicine by connecting with area SWAT teams.  He said it is important for SWAT team paramedics to have advanced training in wound care, airway management techniques, and procedures for spinal injuries.  Since these first responders are obviously the first on the scene, they are invaluable in providing immediate front-line medical care to the victims of such attacks.  Precious life-saving moments will not be lost waiting for ambulances to arrive to transport the wounded and injured.
     As much as we don't want to admit it, we must change the dynamic of how we will treat these urban mass casualty events.  It is likely that doctors will become part healer and part soldier; prepared to imitate battlefield medicine that their counterparts do in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.  If like, Dr. Neeki, they actually have military experience, they can be trained to both defend the public and save lives.
     Training medical professionals to become soldiers will not sit well with every American.  But for Americans like Dr. Michael Neeki, who is now a U.S. citizen, being on-scene to treat the trauma from gunshot wounds in those first crucial seconds is one of the reasons he thinks doctors should be members of first-reponder units.  "I am here because I came for democracy," said Dr. Neeki.  "It's sad to see that you come miles from across the world, and to see something like that here... [But I want] to show ISIS what we are made of."
     We must face it -- Tactical medicine is the new reality, whether we like it or not.  And I believe it is a good thing that Iranian-Americans like Dr. Michael Neeki are willing to show us how to better save lives.  Yes, the worst of the Middle East was seen in that conference room in San Bernardino last week, but we also saw the best of those who have come to this country, seeking the freedom we have to offer, and with a desire to pay back this society and nation who have given them such great opportunities.   You see, blind hatred does not belong to just one ethnic group or nationality.  It is the hallmark of the Evil One, and can permeate any soul.  But our God can take someone out of that same cesspool of hatred and shape a heart committed to defending and healing his fellow man.
     The world is seeing a new reality -- one that has us all on edge.  But never dismiss the goodness and mercy of the Lord that shines through one man's actions.  That is showing what our God is made of!

Proverbs 24:11    Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter.

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