On Wednesday, April 15 at 11:30 a.m. Madison County Hospital hosted a special flag raising ceremony to honor fellow co-worker Patrick Baker, Chief Nursing Officer at the hospital who was deployed on January 1 to serve in Iraq for six months. The ceremony also honored and remembered all local service men and women who have served and are serving our country. Members from American Legion Post #105 in London also participated with a rifle and bugle salute.
Patrick Baker is a major in the U.S. military serving as a Healthcare Administrator for the 179th Ohio Air National Guard out of Mansfield, Ohio. He has served in the military for nearly 20 years.
Baker donated a flag that was flown at the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group Hospital where he is stationed. The flag was flown for one day over the Iraq hospital in honor of Madison County Hospital.
In a special letter sent to the hospital staff, Baker wrote, “This particular flag honors our wounded and fallen soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It is with great honor and pride that I present this gift. Please continue to keep all of our soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.”
The hospital at the Joint Base Balad where Baker is serving is the largest trauma center in Iraq where most injured service members are brought to the hospital for treatment or evaluation. Baker works with flight doctors, flight line crews and Aero-Evacuation crews to coordinate all of the injured patients’ movement in and out of the hospital. The patients are stabilized in this facility and then moved to a hospital in Germany.
“There is a lot of amazing work being done here at the hospital. The hospital cares for all of our wounded service members, Iraqi military, enemy combatants, and Iraqi civilians,” Baker wrote, “The attitude and morale of our troops is very good. Although I miss my family, I feel as though I am a part of something much bigger and much more important than I realized.”
The effects of war are very real at a hospital where personnel in the Iraqi theater of operations carry a weapon. Bunkers, concrete walls and sandbags protect the hospital staff. The hospital roof has three layers and is designed to absorb rocket attacks and the sounds of F-16s and helicopters are constant.
“The threats are real,” wrote Baker, “And rocket attacks do occur on the base. I’m definitely not in Kansas anymore.”
Perhaps even harder to grasp than the threat of attacks are the international laws of humanitarianism. Baker recalled a sobering day at the hospital when a wounded U.S. solider and an injured enemy combatant both entered the emergency room at the same time. The U.S. solider was in critical condition with an injury to his head and the insurgent was in stable condition with a bullet in his leg. Both were rushed to the operating room at the same time.
That day, the U.S. solider didn’t survive while the enemy combatant, who had most likely caused the fatal injury to the American solider, was receiving the best medical care possible and would live. No matter who enters the hospital, the staff treats each patient the same way.
Baker wrote, “At the end of the day, we may not always like the outcome, but we can take pride in doing our best. On this particular day, we did save one life. Unfortunately, we could not save them both.”