Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Walking among heroes

By Staff Sgt. David Hopkins, 3rd BCT, 1st ID, PAO

Facebook Digg Delicious April 30, 2009 News

JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When a man with blood-soaked hands emerged from a small shop in the Nishgam bazaar in northeastern Afghanistan in mid-March and approached a Fort Hood troop of Soldiers he had one request for their medic – to save a baby’s life. Soldiers from Troop C, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, were on patrol through the bazaar to show a presence in the area when an Afghan nurse burst into the street seeking help from the American Soldiers.

“I wasn’t sure what he wanted at first,” Spc. Anthony Janda, 6-4 Cav. Regt., medic, said, “but I followed him into the little shop. Inside there was an 8-year-old boy holding a baby who was wrapped in gauze and had blood all over him.”

The baby was victim to a circumcision that went wrong in a village across the border in Pakistan and was brought to the nurse to help, but his knowledge and supplies were limited and the baby was in shock. Janda knew immediately the injury was serious judging by the amount of blood on the floor. Acting quickly, the medic began to remove the gauze from the child and for the first time realized just how bad the injury was.

“When I started to pull the gauze away blood squirted at me,” Janda said. “I didn’t really think about it at that point. It was all instinctive.” He had never worked on a baby and was not trained in any medical techniques to save babies, but Janda, a father of a three-year-old, knew he had to save the child.

He tried to control the bleeding by applying gauze to the wound. While he was doing this, he sent another Soldier back to get his noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy Carswell, so he could request an evacuation. However, before the senior noncommissioned officer arrived, the baby’s heart stopped beating.

“I’ve never done CPR on a baby before,” Janda said. “Normally I just work on the guys, making sure they are healthy and mission capable. This was completely new.” He performed CPR on the baby and in a couple minutes detected a pulse, but the child wasn’t in stable condition. He had lost a lot of blood and the medic had none to replenish the baby’s supply. The medic and Carswell, who had arrived and was working on getting the baby evacuated, decided to try an IV solution called HEXTAND, which adheres to blood cells and adds more volume to the blood supply. Janda found a small needle in his aid bag. He hit the baby’s tiny vein on the first attempt, but his heart stopped beating.

Janda revived the boy again with CPR. He knew the baby wouldn’t survive if they didn’t get him to surgery, so Carswell ran out into the street to hire a cab. “I found a local and had our interpreter get him to find a cab,” Carswell said. “It’s a thirty-minute drive, but it was the only way to get him back to the (forward operating base).”

Before the cab arrived the baby’s heart stopped for a third time but Janda again successfully revived him. When the child was stable the nurse from the bazaar shop went along with him on the rough, gravel roads to FOB Bostick. By the time they arrived on base, the intravenous solution had taken affect and the baby was responsive and crying.

With the help of a large medical team and advice from a pediatrician on the phone the Soldiers stitched up the baby and saved his life. “The cut was deep,” said Sgt. Shay Wilson, Forward Operating Base Bostick’s aid station noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “When the surgery was performed, just over the border in Pakistan,” Wilson said, “the surgeon, or whoever did the surgery, cut too deep. The baby lost a lot of blood, but Janda did the right things to stabilize him and get him to us.”

After the baby and nurse left the bazaar, Janda and the others went back to work without knowing the baby’s fate. “I had a heavy heart,” Janda said. “I was really worried about the kid and wasn’t really talking to any of the guys. I was depressed because I really didn’t know if he was going to make it.” Several hours later the word was passed to the troop that the baby had survived and was doing fine. The entire troop breathed a collective sigh of relief.

“To have a medic of that caliber with you is priceless,” Staff Sgt. Eric Winn, Troop C squad leader said. “Knowing you have a medic that good with you when you go out lets you focus more on the mission at hand. I wouldn’t want anyone else working on me out there.”

Janda and his team have visited the baby since saving his life and he has recovered and is doing well. “It was great to see him healthy,” Janda said. “I’m just happy I was able to figure out the right things to do, and am happy he gets to live a healthy life.”
The picture above is Janda, his wife Jaime and their son, Aiden! We are so proud of you, Janda! We love you and can't wait to see you soon! You truly are a hero and we are honored to call you friend and family!