As U.S. backed forces push deeper into Mosul to drive out ISIS, more civilians are getting caught in the middle. The only medical care available for many of them on the frontlines is being provided by two American volunteers, including a 27-year-old man from New Jersey.
Pete Reed from Bordentown works at what is probably the most important clinic in all of Iraq now that almost every civilian injured in Mosul is taken there. It’s the only front-line medical post in the entire city.
Reed works with another 27-year-old American, Derek Colemen from San Diego. Together the two volunteers are on a mission to save lives.
“The very first day we were here we had over 65 casualties, including twelve dead on arrival,” Colemen said.
Reed and Colemen are the first ones to give care to civilians like a woman named Farida, who was injured by shrapnel caused by ISIS firing indiscriminately into Mosul.
The 27-year-olds came to Mosul on their own, knowing the risks.
“Quit my job, sold my truck, sold most of my possessions. Came out here on a hope and a dream,” Colemen said.
The two of them initially came to Iraq to work with Iraqi forces and help fight ISIS, but they realized they could do more good saving lives.
There are 5,000 American troops in Mosul, but very few of them are allowed to leave their bases and help out on the front lines.
That’s where Colemen and Reed come in. They’ve made do with donations of medical supplies from private individuals and small organizations.
Colemen is a machinist who has basic first aid training. Reed is a former Marine who served two tours in Afghanistan.
“I still have some fight left in me. I can use my medical for good,” Reed said.
Together, they’ve treated more than 500 people. They said it’s the kids who have stuck with them most.
“Dealing with children, wounded children, dying children. We’ve had some days with half-a-dozen kids die,” Colemen said.
Despite some close calls — like when they were chased by an ISIS car bomber — they know that the people of Mosul are depending on them.
“I have every intention of staying here until the battle is over,” Colemen said.