Field Trip: Afghanistan

May 2008

On June 1st, I am relocating to Kabul, Afghanistan to work as a paramedic. I will be located within the Green Zone, in the civilian sector of the city, working for an Australian contracting company. The job does not involve going out on the roads with the convoys, or going out to get any wounded. We are not working directly with the military, and Kabul is not nearly as violent as Baghdad, so I expect mostly medical work and not lot of trauma. The contract is three months on, one month off, renewable if things go well.

We will be doing three things:

– Treating foreign contractors who come in from around the country, as well as local villagers at a basic clinic.
– Teaching basic and advanced pre-hospital medical skills to other foreign contractors, and re-certifying other medical providers.
– Transport to Dubai and Germany for the more serious cases.

If I were really a humanitarian type, I would be volunteering in Myanmar or China, but that is not a fair claim. I am doing this because it will provide the kind of experience that might have taken ten years at my current job, and I would like to use some of the book-learning that I stuffed into my head in school. It will fatten up my resume and help get me into a physician’s assistant program, if I pass the GRE. It will help for fireman/medic jobs, too, if I choose to continue banging my head against that wall. Finally, I am about to make some cabbage, and I will earn that by doing my small part to support the war that is worth fighting.

More reasons: I have not been out of the country in seven years, and that was not the plan. I will be free to travel anywhere during the month off. I am in some form of a rut, too, financially, professionally and residentially. I need to break out for awhile, shake some of these barnacles off my ass.

Once again, I will remain in Kabul itself and not out on the roads. I did three years in the Army Reserve, and I have heard/seen/dodged gunfire and knives, grenades and RPGs in Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia (backpacking,) Germany and Italy (trespassing,) Egypt (fending off a pederast,) and the Lower Haight (walking through a mid-day shootout, thinking they were nailguns.) I have some experience on both ends of weapons, but that does not help much with roadside bombs, so we will not be out driving around the country.

If I do not see you soon, I will see you in August/September. Have a good summer vacation, and I will keep the short stories coming.

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