Thursday, June 24, 2010

Little Johnny Batta

Image taken from here

Whenever I pass through the accident service, I get flashbacks to the times when screaming ambulances brought in casualties airlifted to Colombo, human beings mangled and torn apart by gunfire, batta mines, claymores, RPGs etc. Our hospital would sometimes get as many as 100 casualties in a single night... and this was after the "less" injured had been sent to Homagama, Jayawardenepura etc. Often the accident service theaters and staff will be overwhelmed and the general surgical units (such as the one I worked in) would be called in, and every theater would have teams working into the small hours of the morning.

One of the Consultant Surgeons I worked with once gave us the history of batta injuries. Once upon a time the blast only removed a part of the calcaneous, the heel bone. Surgery removed the damaged tissue, and the chipped bone was smoothed out so that post injury, walking wasn't too much of a problem.

Gradually the doctors began to see crushed ankle joints and lacerated calf muscles. Then one day my boss (who was at the time working at the Anuradhapura hospital) was called in to see a soldier whose foot was completely blown off, knee joint shattered and muscles ripped apart up to the upper thigh. An above knee amputation was the only option. Later, my boss had to face an inquiry as to why a "simple batta injury" needed such drastic surgery - a question he was more than prepared to answer as he had detailed records including photographs of the incident. Since the end of the 1990's, the batta injuries have gotten progressively more horrific as the terrorists packed in more and stronger explosives into the little device. I have seen and read of injuries where the pelvic ring was blown apart to smithereens, where the bowels have been ripped and torn by the blast and one instance on ruptured diaphragm and damage to the lungs.

Every time I remember the mangled flesh and horrific wounds, I curse the people who invented landmines and those who used them, and continue to use them. They rank high among those guilty of crimes against humanity, IMHO at least.

I believe there is a special part of hell reserved for them.


Me-shak said...

Yea and I pray they will suffer and we will party hearing there bones snap and their lungs tare! May all victims of land mines R.I.P
Great post!


PseudoRandom said...

What a coincidence...I was thinking about the war this morning :S I remembered how those days, if you heard more than one ambulance siren in quick succession, it either meant a bomb had gone off, or we had suffered a large number of casualties at the front line, and our boys had been rushed to Colombo for surgery. When I moved to the UK, every time I heard an ambulance siren, I'd immediately think "bomb" or "soldiers". It took me a few years to get that out of my system.

Hopefully our people will never have to experience such trauma again.

Cadence said...

Good Post. I think many are forgetting the ravages of war too soon.

Chavie said...

Landmines really are one of the worst weapons ever invented. And the thing is that they remain active for aeons afterwards (mines from WWII still blow up from time to time) and affect people who are resettled in those areas as well.

I hope we join the global move to ban landmines.

Dee said...

I hope and pray our little island and its people will never experience such horrors ever again.

Jack Point said...

Been thinking that control of weapons might be a last resort to controlling violence in strife torn areas.

Places that are awash with guns will quieten a little, if the supply of armaments or ammunition were cut off, although how this can be done is the question.

The ICRC and Princess Diana were working on a project to ban landmines.