Treating the Wounded at a U.S. Military Hospital in Germany
December 2008

by Tarik Tinazay

It does not matter how many badly wounded people you might have seen in the field. After all, they unfortunately are part of the horrible scenes of any devastating earthquake, bombing or air strike.

© Tarik Tinazay/WpN
Soldiers transporting a wounded soldier to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center from the Ramstein Air Base, in Landstuhl, Germany, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. Since the 2003 inception of the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, nearly 30,000 American military members have been wounded. Most of the soldiers who have suffered severe bodily harm are airlifted to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the largest American military hospital outside of the U.S. It is the primary treatment center for coalition casualties.
It is a very different experience to see doctors, nurses and medics who are trying to help them at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The difference is as sharp as black and white.

It was my first visit to a military hospital and I chose Landstuhl simply because it is one of the biggest U.S. military hospitals in the region. I was hoping to see and photograph soldiers who were wounded in the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. My six-hour visit to the hospital gave me a glimpse of how experienced doctors and medical personnel worked with wounded soldiers who were clinging to life.

As a photojournalist, I mostly use my own judgment to decide what to shoot in the field, in most cases without even being able to communicate with people in whatever far-off corner of the world I'm in. Here at the LRMC, I was guided by the staff and had to seek permission of the wounded to photograph. Most of them were going through perhaps the most difficult time in their lives and some soldiers had been on sensitive missions.

© Tarik Tinazay/WpN
Surgeons at the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany prepare active-duty Army soldier Sonnier Danean for surgery in Landstuhl, Germany, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. The Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is the largest American military hospital outside of the U.S.
But the gloomy atmosphere of a conflict zone was replaced with the smiling faces of patients, pacing long corridors of this giant complex or in their beds, often joking around, reading, or watching TV.

One of them was Corey Burse, a 39-year-old soldier of the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Center who sustained serious wounds to both of his legs. His commitment to life surprised me so much. When I met him, he was happily watching "The Flintstones" on his LCD TV while not long after this, his face was filled with pain as he tried to walk with the help of a walker. Still, he was full of joy to be there and I think that was something that energized his wounded legs.

Elsewhere in the hospital the music filling the operating room made the scene of even a serious surgery look different. Doctors comforted the patients for several minutes before starting surgery and one could see the sense of relaxation on the patients' faces.

© Tarik Tinazay/WpN
U.S. Navy nurse Kary Deloris carries out one of several daily check-ups at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Center in Landstuhl, Germany. She is seen attending to Corey Burse, a soldier who was seriously wounded during combat, on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008. The Medical Center is the primary treatment center for coalition casualties.
To get to the LRMC, American or allied soldiers who are wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan are usually evacuated on flights after being stabilized by physicians in a short matter of time in those regions. Special medical teams are even capable of handling emergencies in midair on a C-17 transport plane.

The medics use giant truck ambulances to transfer the wounded from nearby Ramstein Air Base to the hospital; the medics prepare and clean the stretchers as they wait for the ambulance to arrive by air. Doctors here then further stabilize and prepare the wounded to go back to various military hospitals in the United States for further treatment.

There are a number of specialists working at Landstuhl, like orthopedic surgeons. High technology, better training and treatment methods allow them to save soldiers who might have died in previous wars. The hospital even has an acute pain center and was among the U.S. military's main overseas hospitals honored by Canada for its service treating Canadian troops wounded in Afghanistan since 2002.

The hospital has also accepted other emergencies, including CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who was seriously injured in 2006 by a car bomb in Iraq that killed her two British colleagues.

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© Tarik Tinazay

Tarik Tinazay was born in Ankara, Turkey, in 1972. He has been a press photographer since 1993 and is associated with World Picture News. Tinazay lives in Cologne, Germany, where he continues his career as a freelance photographer.

To see more of Tarik Tinazay's work, visit the following sites:

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