Intense Training For Military Surgeons

Veterans of all U.S. wars will be honored on Tuesday as America celebrates Veterans' Day, and with two wars still underway, military doctors are improving their ability to care for wounded veterans.

CBS Evening News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who suffered traumatic injuries covering the war in Iraq, reports on a special training program for military trauma surgeons.

On the battlefield in Iraq, saving wounded soldiers takes technology, training, and speed.

Those rescue methods are perfected here on the home front, in Baltimore, Md. From car crashes, to drug turf battles, this is America's war zone at home.

The military sends young surgeons like Dr. Lori Caloia here to the Shock Trauma Center - before sending them to Iraq.

"It just basically gets us into the mindset of how you're supposed to think," Caloia says. "How a trauma surgeon thinks."

Here, they learn to race against the clock, Dozier reports. They've got what's called a "golden hour" to save the patient - it's a clock that starts ticking the moment the patient is hurt. After that hour, shock sets in, and the body starts shutting down - the major organs failing.

"This is essentially trauma boot camp for young military surgeons and a master class for those who have already been in the field," reports Dozier. "About half the doctors who operated on me from Baghdad to Bethesda, did a stint here in Baltimore."

Dr. Jeff Johnson served as the chief trauma surgeon in Balad when I passed through there, Dozier says. He performed more than 560 surgeries in a single year.

"The level of violence that is leveled at mankind in a war, you can't prepare for that," Johnson says.

He keeps up the same pace here - Shock Trauma gets about 30 patients a day.

In her three weeks here, Dr. Caloia's team will end up treating 150 patients - she will be personally responsible for thirty of them.

The pace matches a combat hospital - but that's still different than seeing your fellow troops injured, and in need.

"I think the hardest thing is actually seeing those soldiers in uniform coming through the doors," Caloia says. "And knowing it's up to you to keep your cool, and fight to get them home, using everything you've learned in a place like this."
  • Kimberly Dozier

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