Most of those wounded at Mosul are expected to fully recover
LANDSTUHL, Germany — Officials at the U.S. military’s primary medical hub for troops wounded in Iraq said Thursday that all soldiers and civilians sent to the hospital after Tuesday’s deadly attack on a dining area near Mosul, Iraq, are expected to survive, and most to fully recover.
By midday Thursday, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center had received 35 people hurt in the attack, at least seven of them civilians and 17 of whom are still in critical condition, said the hospital’s commander, Col. Rhonda Cornum.
Cornum said she did not yet have an accurate count of how many civilians had come in on a flight that arrived Thursday morning, or which U.S. contractors they worked for in Iraq.
The hospital began receiving patients early Wednesday morning following an explosion that tore through a U.S. mess tent crowded with soldiers, civilian workers and Iraqi security forces. The blast killed 22 people, including 13 U.S. soldiers. Seventy people were injured in the attack, which military officials say was caused by an improvised explosive device.
Cornum said Landstuhl has already moved some of the wounded, including six critical cases, to Army medical centers in the United States, and expects the majority of the remaining patients to arrive at stateside hospitals by Monday.
The hospital is trying to get as many of the troops to U.S. hospitals by Christmas Day, Cornum said. Military officials even added an extra flight out of Germany on Saturday to get the wounded closer to their families for the holiday.
The bombing, which created the largest rush of patients to the hospital from any single attack since the start of the war, produced a multitude of injuries rarely seen by Landstuhl doctors, Cornum said.
Many troops had neck, chest and abdomen wounds, which are normally protected against in IED attacks by body armor. Wounds suffered by those hurt in the explosion made it clear that they were caught unprepared for an attack when they sat down to eat lunch Tuesday, she said.
“It was obvious that these people were not wearing their battle armor,” said Cornum, who had performed a surgery herself Thursday morning.
U.S. “battle rattle” generally deflects serious wounds to the torso and results in injuries to the arms and legs, she said, though there were “a couple of amputations,” among the wounded at Landstuhl.
None of the injuries seen at the hospital, however, provided any insight into the type of device used in the attack, which Pentagon officials said Wednesday they suspected was a suicide bombing.
Most patients arriving at the facility had already undergone surgery at medical centers in Iraq or Kuwait before being stabilized for the flight to Germany, and evidence of their original wounds has generally been “obliterated by the time they are here,” Cornum said.
“It’s hard to say what the injury looked like when they started,” she said.
The rush of patients and the high percentage of critical cases flown to the hospital just days before Christmas put a strain on Landstuhl medical workers, though they met the challenge with poise, Cornum said.
Hospital staff, which has treated more than 21,500 troops for all types of injuries since U.S. military operations began in Afghanistan in 2002, worked extra hours to care for the wounded. Medical teams around the region were kept on two-hour alert in case more were needed.
As of Thursday afternoon, no further patients with battle injuries from the Mosul attack were expected to arrive at Landstuhl, Cornum said.