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by Abigail Van Buren

Medic's Battlefield Decision Now Continues to Haunt Him

DEAR ABBY: I am a medic in the Middle East. I was out on patrol with some of our guys when we were hit with a mortar attack. More than one guy was wounded.

I ran to the first guy and saw that he was hit. He had a wound I knew he wouldn't be able to survive. He pulled a letter from his pocket, put it in my hands and pushed me away. I tried to apply pressure to his wound to slow the bleeding, but he pushed me away again. It was like he was telling me to go to the next man who needed my attention. Everyone survived except him.

At first, I thought I did the right thing by respecting his wishes to help someone I could save. When I got back and talked to his family, they were angry at me for not trying harder to save his life. When I signed up for this job, I knew I wouldn't be able to save everyone, but I am supposed to try my best no matter who it is I am saving.

Was I wrong by going to another man who I could save? Was it wrong of me to take his letter and leave him after he pushed me away twice? Please tell me what you think. -- DOC IN DISTRESS

DEAR DOC: I think you were doing the best you could in an impossible situation. Your patient may have instinctively known he was not going to make it -- which is why he gave you the letter. Of course the family was angry that you couldn't save their loved one -- they are grieving. I urge you to talk to a counselor about what happened and the feelings of guilt you're experiencing. In a situation like the one in which you found yourself, wrenching choices sometimes have to be made. Please stop second-guessing yourself.