A cut from memoirs of Iran Torabi

Preparation of Soosangerd Hospital

Selected by Faezeh Sassanikhah
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


We arrived in Soosangard around noon. It was the 21st day of Mehr [1359] (October 13, 1980). The situation of the city was almost the same as Ahvaz, and even worse. There was dirt and destruction everywhere. The city had almost been deserted. As Ahvaz Red Crescent had said, the city was still within reach of the enemy and no place was safe from their artillery and mortar fire. We rushed to the city hospital. The door and the sign above it were still intact. It had a large yard, one part of which had plowed. It seemed that before the start of the war, they had prepared there for planting flowers or saplings. A runnel was passing through that area. The emergency room of the hospital was located at the opening of the courtyard near the entrance, and the kitchen was in front of it, and the main building was at the end of the courtyard.


The hospital was more like a military barracks than a place of treatment. The courtyard and inside the building were full of fighting forces who had come to defend and there was no other place for resting and changing the forces. Most of them were military personnel who were resting, or talking to each other. They had built some embankments in the plowed part of the yard so that when the planes came to bomb, they could take shelter behind them. When these forces found out that a medical group had come to the area, they were very happy and announced their cooperation.


Before everything, we checked the emergency situation. It was completely unsanitary. The emergency room was full of dirt and blood and many flies were rampant in it. There were several male personnel in the hospital. It was clear out of the Arabic clothes they had worn that they were natives of the same region. One of them was an anesthesiologist, two were cooks, and the other two were hospital guards. They said: "The water supply has been hit, we have neither water nor power here." In addition to several people, a female dentist also came from Ahvaz to help; but she said that there is nothing I can do here and I have no desire to stay. A day or two days later, we arrived, she came back to Ahvaz by a car going there.


We could do nothing without water and power. Mr. Chizari said, "We have to use these military forces and take water from this runnel with a bucket and clean the hospital as much as possible. I will go tomorrow morning and bring a generator from Ahvaz." We said: "Sir, is it possible to go back this way?" He said: "The God who brought us here will take us to Ahvaz and bring us back."


There was not much water in the yard's runnel. A number of irregular warfare and army forces came to our aid to clean and prepare the wards. They shut off the water stream, and after some water was collected, it was brought into the building with a bucket. We started washing and cleaning the hospital together. First, we started from the emergency ward. After cleaning there, we brought two or three oxygen capsules left in the hospital to the emergency room. We prepared the dressings and checked the medicines. Finally, we camouflaged the door and windows of the emergency ward with military blankets. Because the natives and fighters said that Iraqi MiG jets hit rockets wherever they saw light at night. After the emergency ward was prepared, we went to the wards inside the hospital. We took out the beds room by room. We would sweep the room and put the beds back in place. We put a serum stand and oxygen capsule in each room. I visited the operation room with the anesthesiologist of the hospital. Fortunately, the situation there was better than the other wards. We cleaned and disinfected there and arranged the medicines and equipment we brought with us on the shelves. The anesthesiologist said, "The Iraqis took everything with them, but luckily they didn't have enough time to destroy the remaining equipment." As he said, there was a hand-to-hand war again in Bostan and our forces did not have enough weapons and ammunition to face the enemy.


As we were all working, suddenly a huge explosion was heard nearby and shook the whole place. The sound was terrible. Following the sound, everyone unconsciously sat on the floor or took refuge behind the table and beds. A little later, my companions followed the combatants and natives to the scene of the accident. The place of the explosion could be recognized from the smoke and dust that rose into the air. People and other fighting forces were running in that direction from far and wide. Before the fall of Soosangerd, most of the people had left the city in the first days of the war and went to the nearby towns and villages. But after the city was recaptured from the Iraqis, some people who had no one and no place to live returned to their homes.


We arrived at the place of the explosion. A house had been completely destroyed. The anxiety and apprehension could be seen on the faces of all those gathered there. Especially the people in our group, who had not seen these things before and regularly asked this and that about the residents of that house. The neighbors said that fifteen, sixteen people lived in this house. No matter how hard they tried to save someone, they got nowhere. Not only no one was left alive, but all the bodies were also disintegrated. Only a handful of bones and mangled flesh was pulled out. None of them could be identified.


Nobody could do anything. Just, a number of people started to collect the remaining pieces of the martyrs' bodies. We returned to the hospital and resumed the cleaning work. The scenes had affected us. Neither of us could eat for two days after that. Our food was only water. Sometimes, when we were weak, we would eat a date or a raisin.


The sky was bright and full of moonlight on that night. We were able to finish the work easily until around one o'clock in the morning due to the moonlight. Other emergency rooms and wards were ready to receive the injured. Dr. Eliasi asked the guard to announce in the city that the hospital was ready for admission. "If there is an injured person, bring him", he said. They also informed the region that the medical team had entered the city and they could send the injured to the hospital.


 Source: Sajjadi, Shiva, Iran Memoirs: Memoirs of Iran Torabi, Tehran Sooreh Mehr, 1391, V. 1, P. 154.

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