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Injuries And Trauma

Heroes Remember

The injuries that we saw were gunshot wounds definitely. We saw mine blasts so a lot of times traumatic amputations. We would see stabbings. You would see rollovers. A lot of vehicles rolled over. You would see blast injuries, lots of burns, burns, burns, burns. Something I hadn’t seen before I got to Afghanistan. What else we saw? A few appendicitis, like the normal thing that you would see in a normal small city of 10,000 people. Pneumonia, little things that happen, but most of it was trauma, trauma, trauma. I had never seen a gunshot wound so the first time I saw a gunshot wound I was expecting more, until you realize, okay it’s a wound like any other, treat it, treat any emergency like you would treat back home. Your ABC, which is airway, breathing, circulation and then you know you have to disregard for a second it’s a gunshot wound and just do what you would normally do with any other patient who is in a trauma. And after that it was nothing. We got so desensitized to our bullet wounds, it was oh a guy comes in with two arms, two legs, he doesn’t have a head injury. You treat him accordingly, but it’s like a sprained ankle for us at that point, because we’ve seen so many of them. You do six months in Afghanistan, it’s like doing ten years in a trauma centre. You can never ever imagine the amount of trauma we see. The patient I remember the most is a fifteen year old Aghan girl who came in with a stab wound to the neck. Her husband decided that she had cheated on him even though she hadn’t and wanted to kill her, but he missed. So his family was afraid that he would go to jail so they left her to die in their house for about nine days. Didn’t give her any medical treatment. Her mother came by to look for her and brought her in to us. She unfortunately died, not with us. We did what we could and eventually we had to move the patient into Muirwise, ’cause we cannot keep a bed space if we can transfer a patient to another hospital and Muirwise is the local national Afghan hospital for Afghan individuals, and there was nothing we could do for her up to what we did for her. We kept her as comfortable as possible. This girl was a young girl, fifteen years old like I said, had two children and this is where you see human rights are, there’s none existing in Afghanistan. It was the one that bothered me the most out of all the patients I saw in Afghanistan. And that’s why we’re there.

Ms. Streppa describes the types of injuries that were treated in the Kandahar field hospital, and describes her most memorable patient, a young Afghan mother who, for her, symbolized why Canadians are in Afghanistan.

Joanna Streppa

Ms. Streppa was born in Montreal. She joined the Canadian Forces in 1989 as a non-commissioned member and trained as a Naval Signaller. From 1990 - 1997 she was employed in the Halifax area with the exception of a two year tour at the National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa. After obtaining her Nursing degree from Dalhousie University, Ms. Streppa received her Officer Commission, specializing in Critical Care, and in 2004 was promoted to rank of Lieutenant. In February 2006, she accepted a deployment to Afghanistan/Kandahar and was employed as a Staff Officer within the Canadian Forces Health Services Group Headquarters upon her return.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
February 10, 2008
Person Interviewed:
Joanna Streppa
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Forces Medical Corps
1st Lieutenant
Medical Personnel

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