A surgeon’s life on the battlefield
In his everyday life, Professor Jeffrey Rosenfeld is a neurosurgeon at The Alfred. But this year, in the 48°C heat of the Iraq summer, Professor Rosenfeld spent three months performing emergency neurosurgery on soldiers injured largely by bomb blasts and sniper bullets.
This was Professor Rosendfeld's eighth deployment with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), after he first served with the medical unit in Rwanda in 1996.
Earlier this year, he served as a military neurosurgeon in the battle for Mosul, looking after sick and injured soldiers.
“It’s a tough environment to work in – not only because it’s a warzone but it’s also the middle of summer, so the temperature is around 45-50°C every day and you’re working in tents in a field hospital,” Professor Rosenfeld said.
“The work is very different, a lot of the injuries are due to bomb blasts or gun shots, you just don’t see that here. I’ve been deployed a few times now so I know what to expect but you do have to adjust your mindset and when you come home, you have to mentally readjust. It’s a bit of a shock to the system.
“The people I was working with over there were a very good group of health professionals and we all work together – the field hospital is like a high-class trauma centre.”
Professor Rosenfeld was in Baghdad for the ANZAC Day service this year – an experience he said was very moving.
“We were in the middle of an operation outside Australia, with soldiers who were actively fighting in a war, remembering soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice for our country – it was a pretty amazing experience.”
In 1984, Professor first joined the medical team of the ADF. Through his experience, he has gained a level of knowledge and interest – particularly in repairing bomb blast and bullet injuries – that he would not have outside the ADF.
“I wanted to serve my country in uniform, and look after our soldiers who were fighting for us.”
This Remembrance Day, The Alfred will pause to remember all the health professionals – like Professor Rosenfeld - who have played a vital role in conflict throughout history. The Remembrance Day Memorial Service will take place at 10.30am on Friday 10 November, in the Tony Charlton Memorial Garden.