is patients roll in, day after day, sometimes by the dozen, their injuries so horrific it could overwhelm even an experienced trauma surgeon. The young men may have stepped on an IED—an improvised explosive device—or taken a mortar hit. Often they’re barely breathing, their chests torn open, an arm or a leg nearly blown off.
If you are that trauma surgeon and your hospital sits in “Rocket City,” an American military base just over the Afghan border with Pakistan, you can’t lose your cool when their lives are at stake. And it’s always in the back of your mind that as a U.S. combat surgeon on the front lines of the Afghan war, you’re a target, too.
Saving lives under fire is sort of a part-time job for Dr. Paul J. Schenarts, known to friends and family as P.J. The Brody School of Medicine associate professor and ECU trauma surgeon is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He’s just back from deployment to Afghanistan.
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