“On 21 of August 2013, I woke up at about 2 AM to the sounds of ambulances and screams of panic and horror coming from the emergency department in the field hospital where my work was.
I rushed to the emergency department to find dozens of children, men and women lying on the ground in a pool of water as if they were asleep. I did not realize what had happened. One of my colleagues put his hand on my shoulder to tell me that it was a chemical attack by al Assad regime. I looked at him silently, not believing what he said.
Yes, I saw warplanes ripping civilians off in the markets and I got used to it. I saw children with dirt filling their mouths and noses after being pulled from under the rubble, and I got used to it, but what am I witnessing now? Ambulances did not stop bringing people as if they were sleeping, foam from their mouths and noses, shaking like chickens on the ground, some of them taking off their clothes hysterically.
“Well, I’m the doctor and I have to act”, I told myself. Frankly, I did not know where to start or how to walk. The entrance to the emergency rooms was paved with dead bodies, I needed to check my foot place so I would not trample on anyone. I walked crying oh God! Oh God, I felt chills and was terrified. They were washing everyone with water. I was walking, astonished, when a person grabbed my hand and cried asking me to see his daughter, who looked steeped in a beautiful dream. I examined her but she was dead. I saw only foam coming out of her mouth. There were no wounds or bruises on the body. The heart and lungs stopped working. I did not have the time to tell her father that she had passed away, as another man pulled me to see his wife who had also died! This continued with a third, fourth and fifth body, I do not remember. I saw someone moving. I managed to reach him by jumping between the bodies. He was still alive, but he started to lose consciousness, and his breathing slowed down. I called one of the nurses. We inserted an air tube into his lungs. There was something that paralyzes the breathing muscles. “Give him Atropine” I told the nurse. The nurses began giving Atropine to everyone, but in vain. It was huge mess.
“We have to organize our efforts” I shouted, and started to act in an organized way. With nurses and paramedics, I began to sort out the cases. “Take the martyrs to the nearby orchard” I told them. We put the martyrs, including children, together and gave them numbers (they became mere numbers), and photographed them. As for the living persons, I gave instructions to treat them with what we have (atropine, intubation, resuscitation). I was pessimistic, I knew that atropine we had was not enough, and there were dozens of people who needed it, but there were no capacity to receive all those numbers. We also did not know exactly what we were facing? We were never in control, we were just comforting this and that.
The dawn came and we were still working. Someone shook my shoulder: “They need you in the operating room”. I stayed until the next day there. It was not enough for the regime to spread its poison in the air, but also continued with missiles and rockets to shed more blood.
I finished my work and rushed to watch the television, “what do they say”? Eastern Ghouta was attacked by chemical weapons, they will absolutely send experts to confirm this. “Well! I will tell them everything I saw, in a precise scientific way.” But no one came. We were exposed after that to many other attacks, and I did not see anyone.
On 31.03.2018, I left Eastern #Ghouta, displaced to #Idlib, and I am still waiting for someone from the #UnitedNations to ask me about what had happened that day.”
Dr.Isam (Aliace). A doctor who treated injuries from Ghouta 2013 chemical attack