Until recently, there were six field hospitals operating in the city. Today, there are only five, because one of them, in the neighbourhood of Khaldiyeh, was hit in a bombardment – three patients and two volunteer nurses, who I knew well, were killed.
We’re lacking in specialised doctors. There are only half a dozen trained doctors for all of Homs’ field hospitals. In the two hospitals of Khaldiyeh, where I worked, there is only a surgeon and an orthopaedist. The rest of the doctors [not counting those who work at the main hospital, controlled by the authorities] are either to afraid of getting arrested or simply can’t get to the field hospitals [which are located in neighbourhoods targeted by the security forces] from where they live.
As for the nurses, none of them are professionals. They’re all volunteers who knew nothing about medicine before the start of the conflict. Often, patients die simply because there are not enough of us to treat them all in time – especially on days where there are raids that result in dozens of wounded.
When we first opened the field hospitals, we saw victims of sniper fire as well as of some bombings, but these days it’s mostly bombings. They’ve intensified in the last few weeks. The worst injuries are those to major arteries. Without specialised doctors, they’re very difficult to treat. Patients often have to be amputated, or they die.
The intensifying bombings also mean it’s harder for activists to bring medicine and supplies from other cities. The hospitals are lacking in very basic first aid supplies: painkillers, sterilising products, anti-inflammatory drugs, syringes… And it’s getting worse.
The type of people treated at the hospitals depend on which neighbourhoods they come to us from. In some, all civilians have fled, and so the wounded are mainly anti-regime fighters. But in other neighbourhoods, women, children and elderly people are also falling victim to the violence.