The army nurses were female and male. Both were exceptionally qualified and dedicated. There were fewer men; true army professionals and usually ordered to serve in Vietnam.
The women, referred to as round eyes, were mostly first lieutenants who all had volunteered to be there. They mostly were just out of nursing school and in their very early twenties as were the wounded and ill for which they cared. They also were true professionals who essentially acted as “house staff”, i.e., surgical residents in training. When they called with their evaluations of a patient’s status, we listened carefully and followed their suggestions. One such patient had been shot through and through the right chest by an AK-47. Stateside, draining the blood and air with a chest tube was usually sufficient treatment for the typical low velocity gun shot wound, i.e., GSW. That experience dictated my initial approach. In the ICU, the blood and air continued to drain, and I was notified. Without hesitation, accepting the nurse’s judgment, I asked to have the OR set up for surgery and quickly reviewed the anatomy of a lung’s major blood vessels as I mentally prepared myself to accept the responsibility of removing the damaged upper lobe of the right lung of this eighteen-year-old kid.
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