A long line of Bayji citizens extends out of the hospital where medical care was given to those in need. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Richard Rzepka)
BAYJI, Iraq (April 23, 2008) – More than 550 people were provided with much needed medical care at the Bayji hospital in the Hai al Asry neighborhood of the restive city of Bayji Apr. 15.
A lengthy line of Bayji citizens snaked around the aged hospital building as Iraqi army medics from the 4th Iraqi Army Division helped the hospital workers to provide care to the sick and indigent.
The humanitarian operation, which was dubbed a “collaborative medical engagement”, was a united effort by Bayji city councilmen, local Iraqi policemen, the 4th Iraqi Army Division and the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
“The turnout for the event was more than we had hoped for,” said Capt. Michael Sykes, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment. “Bayji’s local government officials recognized a need to solve people’s immediate healthcare needs and so they stepped up and took action. It was great to see the locals interacting with the local police and Army,” he said.
As citizens waited in line, many asked Iraqi army soldiers for the phone number to the local security station and when the next medical engagement would occur. Children in line were all smiles as they received toys from Iraqi Soldiers.
The CME was initiated in response to the city council’s request to provide citizens with immediate medical care under the protection of Iraqi security forces, who maintained order throughout the searing heat of the day.
As the security situation continues to improve here, more and more Iraqis are shifting their attention to the need for essential services, such as healthcare.
“We want to live in peace,” said a woman with a sick child. “It is not Iraqis fighting Iraqis,” she said. “It is foreigners we are fighting.”
Across the Salah ad Din province, security continues to improve due to a myriad of factors including enhanced Iraqi security force operations and a burgeoning Sons of Iraq movement.
Local government officials and security personnel have begun to take note of the Sons of Iraq movement’s efficacy and are making moves to bring them into the fold of the Iraqi security forces here.
Grateful Iraqis who received treatment for their ailments were seen shaking hands with Soldiers as they walked through the streets, embracing the day’s calm.