When the 21 injured survivors of Sunday's helicopter attack were flown to the Army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, they followed a well-worn trail. The facility here has been stretched to its limits.
"We've seen a lot of folks, yes sir," said the hospital's commander, Col. Rhonda Cornum. And the combat casualty rates haven't been falling off as had been hoped – they keep coming.
"Since the 23rd of March up to the 2nd of November we had 912" patients, said Cornum, and that doesn't include the 21 casualties from the helicopter attack.
The attack on the helicopter may have been the biggest single caseload from one incident that this hospital has had to cope with, but it wouldn't have come as a shock. They're used to big numbers here. Since the combat in Iraq began, including combat casualties, serious non-combat injuries and disease, this hospital has had to treat more than 7,700 U.S. personnel.
One reason for the high numbers of injured is that the troops' flack jackets are keeping many alive who would otherwise be dead.
Major Allan Philp, M.D., points to "the success of some of the body armor, for example, in reducing the number of torso injuries which are traditionally fatal types of injuries. The success of those has been outstanding," he says.
Three of the helicopter attack survivors have now been flown to the U.S. for treatment. They move patients out of here quickly, to make room for more.