10 January 2011

AZ Shooting: Giffords treated by former US Navy trauma surgeon

Dr. Peter Rhee, right, speaks about Gabrielle Giffords' condition as Dr. G. Michael Lemole, Jr., looks on Sunday at University Medical Center in Tucson. (Chris Carlson / The Associated Press / January 9, 2011)

The Los Angeles Times:
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, gunshot wound through her brain, was fortunate enough to be wheeled into the emergency room of a uniquely qualified surgeon: Dr. Peter Rhee, a 24-year military surgeon who has treated "hundreds and hundreds" of battlefield injuries during stints in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rhee, 49, chief of trauma at University Medical Center in Tucson, said his work in the Navy tending to injured soldiers and Marines and teaching the next generation of battlefield medical personnel unquestionably played a role in his ability to treat Giffords and direct care for the 10 other victims who began arriving in his unit Saturday morning.

"There's no doubt," he said. "I was in the Navy 24 years, and I trained to do nothing but battlefield casualty care. When I did go to Afghanistan and Iraq, I wasn't in a hospital. I was in very forward surgical units, so I was very accustomed to working with very little gear and people and personnel, very little resources, with wounds that are very different than civilian injuries," Rhee said Sunday. "Did it prepare me? I would say of course it did. And that makes it so that when we have a mass casualty of 11 people here, it's really not as bad as it can get."

Rhee said he handled "hundreds and hundreds" of battlefield injuries in two war deployments beginning in 2001. He was one of the first battlefield surgeons to be deployed to Camp Rhino, the first U.S. land base in Afghanistan, located in the remote desert about 100 miles southwest of Kandahar. In 2005, he served in Iraq.

Navy medicine spokesman Capt. Cappy Surette said Rhee worked closely with medical teams developing the trauma training programs "that are the benchmark of the unparalleled trauma care being provided to our people on the battlefield today."

Our prayers continue for all of the victims and their families.

1 comment:

Maggie Goff said...

Thanks, MaryAnn. My first thought when i heard she was in surgery was too bad they can't get one of the neurosurgeons from the military....they have so much experience with this. How wonderful to find out that Dr. Rhee was already there. UMC has a fantastic reputation. Top notch doctors. I tried to see a pulmonologist there, but they are not taking ANY new patients.