Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Kevin Dawes Part Two - Dafniyah/Misrata Frontline

Kevin Dawes, from San Diego, California travelled to Libya in June 2011 as a photojournalist, but almost immediately became involved with assisting rebel medics on the Dafniyah-Misrata frontline, and eventually ended up fighting alongside the rebels in Sirte, where his time in Libya came to a sudden and violent end.  He filmed much of what he experienced in Libya, and has uploaded around 300 of those videos onto his Youtube Channel.

The following map details some of the locations visited by Kevin Dawes in Libya, along with videos filmed in the area:


View videos and locations visited by Kevin Dawes in a larger map

Diary Entry June 10th
Massive shelling of our aid station.  Everybody chanted a prayer while we waited for casualties.  I rode back with and treated two of them, started an IV line on one man with a bad head injury who had a blob of brain on his shoulder (probably not his) and wiped the face of another kid with an abdominal injury who was maybe 16.  Kept him calm while the other docs worked.

You say you became a medical assistant at the aid station, how long after your arrival was this, and can you describe your duties at the aid station?

It was June 10th.  I irrigated wounds, applied betadyne, once started a line, changed IV bottles with only two recorded accidents, took vitals, cut off clothes, held the light, and cleaned. I also served as a mobile instrument rack for the other people there.

These two videos were filmed after June 10th at the field hospital:




You were at the aid station during heavy fighting on the Dafniyah front west of Misrata, can you describe the sort of injuries you were seeing, and the number of casualties the aid station was receiving?

We lost track pretty quickly. We were seeing primarily massive blast traumas. Peppering wounds of the head, chest, and abdomen. Blast dismemberment was common. In a few videos we quote numbers but I do not have reliable statistics available. Lots. One thing to note- we did not see a single gunshot wound.

Was Dr Tameem the only qualified doctor at the aid station?  The rest were medical students and volunteers?
 
No, there were maybe two or three doctors including Dr. Tameem? Dr. Tameem would have better exact numbers. I may have seen an artificially low number given the traffic in and out of the station. The vast majority were medical students. I distinctly recall one trauma that was run entirely by medical students. I saw a kid do a panic venasection and then forget to start a line. He just cut the guy. Didn't increase the severity of the injuries appreciably, for whatever that's worth. Real deal panic attack, too. Breathless. The trauma in question was a male with a severe blast injury to his legs. They were covered in quarter sized holes. Many were penetrating. A large chunk of his left foot was missing along the arch. You could see all of the tendons inside of his foot.

He was very dry. No bleeding from any of the holes. They were just blackened and full of sand. I spent my time trying to irrigate them clean with a first year medical student who was bad at using betadyne. Then I saw a little swell of dark red venous blood ooze from the missing chunk on his foot. Then he suddenly moved his feet in two slow little beautiful circles. He activated every muscle. I saw his tendons working inside of his foot. Even with his ridiculous injuries he still had full nerve and blood supply as well as an intact orthopedic infrastructure. This man would keep his legs if the post-injury infections went smoothly. After seeing the incredible toll taken by infection I adopted a personal protocol advocating aggressive and immediate administration of ceftriaxone. At the time of injury if possible. There are other possible antibiotic combinations that work but the ceftriaxone is considered a first option drug that works in the majority of cases and it is really easy to administer.

Based on the pattern of injuries it looked like a mortar had landed directly at his feet. I imagine the blast concussion (it's really a diffuse axonal injury) had him out of it enough not to be miserable. I never did give anybody a single neurological assessment the whole time I was there. In hindsight he was *very* out of it.

I'm also stupid for not having a stethoscope. Airway guess and check was contingent on me sealing my ear to you.

The injuries were very gruesome. Breakdowns were pretty common for people at the end of the day. The venasection came in while I was spraying 0.9% sodium chloride into one of the man's sand holes. He said: 'I have .. I have.. I have to do a venasection. Venasection!' and he connected two of the holes in the man's calf with a scalpel blade held tightly between two fingers. The skin pulled apart readily exposing the muscle underneath. It was apparently under a lot of elastic loading from the swelling underneath.

The man's wounds were very gruesome and shocking. Proper triage gave way to a panicky 'maximal response'. Everything was stable. He was just covered in horrible wounds that needed to be debrided and closed. Lesson learned.

Was Dr. Tameem a local doctor, or someone who had come from outside the city?

He was a local doctor.

With a lack of medical supplies did you see much improvisation by the medical teams?

Yes, after some digging Dr. Tameem and I agreed on using lengths of  heavy gauge electrical wire as tourniquet material when this supply ran out. The practice was very rapidly widely adopted after the advantages became clear. Bare copper is aseptic and after twisting the wire on it tends to remain in place. I still remember walking into the field hospital one day and seeing this glittering curtain of bare copper wires hanging off of a rack next to the IV bags. 

Where any other foreigners or journalists at the aid station?

I saw none until much later when Paddy Wells appeared there to film. 

Dr Tameem tell you much about his encounter with Tim Hetherington? 
 
Yes, that was actually one of the first things he told me about. He was hesitant about details because the man had died. We discussed the reasons why he died. It was for want of a chest needle.



In Misrata on June 10th Dr Tameem is clearly unhappy that NATO warplanes only appeared 3 or 4 hours after Gaddafi tanks arrived.  Did NATO generally take that long to respond to threats like that?

Early in the war, yeah. Later in the war they were a lot more effective but they had a smaller target search area too. 

Was the aid station you worked at targeted by Gaddafi troops, and did you hear about any other medical facilities that were targeted by Gaddafi troops?

Yes it was; according to the medical staff this was the situation across all of the facilities. It is why I withheld GPS coordinates for our particular aid station until the front moved. The bulk of the artillery was consistently hitting that small field near the ambulance bays. I did not want the enemy to see my video on Youtube and then correct their fire.


So you worked at the aid station, and then began traveling with the ambulances?  Can you tell me what you experienced during that time?

In short we drove up and down the front really fast looking for seriously wounded fighters. We often drove through sections of burning trench and passed fighters with grievous but not mortal wounds looking for more immediate casualties. We didn't even slow down. It was quite grisly.

Did you come under fire at anytime when working with the medics out in the field?

We were under continuous bombardment. Quiet periods were rare.

Then there was the incident when Gaddafi forces executed an ambulance crew.  Can you provide more information on that, and the reaction of the rebels in Misrata?

Everybody was shocked and enraged, basically. At this point they were convinced that they were fighting animals. So people armed themselves and their worlds were rocked. We had spent so much time treating Qaddafi's wounded and lovingly swaddling Qaddafi's dead only to be met with this... many people broke.

Did you see a significant change in behaviour towards the Gaddafi wounded by rebel fighters and medics after the incident?
 
Nope. Still collected and buried properly. People were just rattled and angry.

After the ambulance execution incident did you receive weapons training yourself?  Were you provided with a weapon?

I've been an avid pistol and rifle marksman since 2000. I'm well versed with the operation of the AK-47 assault rifle, having previously owned one. I was eventually given a Romanian PSL that had been taken from Bab al-Azizia. I regularly stripped and clean this weapon and was otherwise skilled in its maintenance and operation. The controls and mechanics are virtually identical to those of the AK-47. I was already familiar with the style of range finding reticule the scope used. I really do have a lot of firearms experience.

No, I didn't receive training from these guys. Other way around.

I watched some of them clean their rifles with RAID roach killer, once. This is not their usual thing.

From your discussions with Dr Tameem it seems like the whoever was the most senior person avaliable at the time made any decisions? 

Yep. Kinda. There were classes of authority. You'd still see disputes within each tier.

What was the impression you got of the organisation and command structure of the rebels in Misrata?

Very ad-hoc.

I noticed in one of the videos filmed on June 9th you have "NATO" written on the top of your helmet?

I was warned to do this the day I arrived 'or the choppers might get me'. Air strikes are almost a magical force to people on the ground. So I'll go with: 'Magic Warding Symbol'.  A careful eye will also notice a Rebel gang symbol dating from June scratched on my helmet. On the brow. The blocked X.

Was that widely used in Misrata?  Did it represent separate militias or fighting groups?

The gang symbols are from very early in the war. They indicated that you were with the rebellion and changed regularly. I had the last one circulated.  People would scrawl them onto vehicles with soap.

You mention an elite unit in Misrata who drive black technicals, can you provide any more information about them?

They were based at the Marina and would go tear-assing to the front to reinforce any weak points. They were awesome. I befriended them while at the Marina, they had great senses of humor.

You also mention a Misratan who defended his apartment building with petrol bombs and salvaged MAT-120 submuntions, could you expand on that?

Yeah, prior to these guys assaulting and taking the air force academy there were no guns. Seeing how they fought anyway was neat. I now know of at least a dozen ways to take out tanks with basically nothing. This particular guy collected and refuzed UXOs. That's pretty dedicated, right there. I was filled with respect and admiration. He also drove an ambulance around.

We suspected that he might be Zorro, and lots of rumors were flying around about Zorro back then (regarding just what he did), but after some checking it turned out that Zorro was just some chubby kid who blew up a building with an SPG by way of lucky shot. There were some rumors that Zorro was a vigilante bomber taking out targets inside of the rebel structure that he felt were Qaddafi-loyal. This is untrue.  It grew out of his original story.

Can you tell me a bit more about "Zorro"?

Very nice guy. Tea with him was lovely and I think his friends are all very nice too. He made a great shot with an SPG from the shoulder. It took courage. His boldness was rewarded, too, as he felled a building with his shot. From this he became a legend. Kinda neat.
  
From what you were told did it appear that early on in the conflict the Misratan rebels got most of their military equipment by capturing it from Gaddafi soldiers?

No, it was all swords and spearguns and other crap for a while and then there was the pivotal battle of the airforce academy where huge supplies of weapons were secured. After that, they had guns. Before that, they'd take out 14.5 MM gunners with fishing supplies and the standard weapon was the molotov cocktail.



Where the rebels you encountered generally civilians who took up arms?  Did you encounter or hear of any defected Gaddafi soldiers fighting on the side of the rebels?

Yeah, and a few that I heard of. They usually didn't speak up or occupied a command position or something. Nobody distinguished one from the other in any way.

Did you encounter any other foreigners fighting with the rebels?

Yeah. Egypt and Syria, believe it or not. The Syria connection was the most fascinating to me. Did he mean Syria the country or is there a 'Sooria, Libya' somewhere? Any time I discussed Syria with other people they would pronounce it 'Sooria' so who knows. Ahmed got some footage of a white guy who said: 'Oh, if I told you who I worked for mate I'd have to kill you' but I happen to know this one. He was staying at the Baraka hotel (with the big name news teams) and was a security guy mocking a kid.


There were other westerners there. Americans, Finns, etc. The Americans trained fighters and mostly hung out in Benghazi with occassional trips to Misrata. No combat activities. The Finns worked at a field hospital near mine that didn't get as much business. They had older generation helmets and Raybans. Didn't encounter any French or British special forces teams all dressed up like Libyan country bumpkins hauling around a two way satellite transceiver and a ton of James Bond quality gear in the trunk of their ghettomobile while still inexplicably rocking awesome sunglasses, if that's what you're hoping for. The only SF team I am aware of, by reputation only, got arrested and yelled at by a totally different group of rebels and I believe sent home. The British diplomatic mission?

There was also that Matthew Van Dyke guy. I snapped this photo at the Benghazi courthouse before heading out to Misrata. We never met in person.

A missing person poster for Matthew Van Dyke, Benghazi


Did you see any evidence of any religious radicals fighting with the rebels?

Nope. During Ramadan they told me to relax and not to worry about the fast. I still was invited to the dinners and so on. They thought it would be silly for a non-Muslim to go through all of the motions. Libya is not Saudi.

CJ Chivers reported rumours that the remains of Gaddafi fighters were being dumped at sea, did you hear or see anything to support that?

I did not.

Once Gaddafi fighters were treated do you know what happened to them?


They were shuttled away. I do not know what happened to them.

Could you describe any of the Gaddafi fighters that were treated as being mercenaries or foreigners, or where they described to you by rebels as such?


They were often described as mercenaries though I saw no physical evidence to support this. All were uniformed.

Did you hear anything about Tawergha, or the behaviour of Tawerghans when they attacked Misrata from the south?

I went there with a guy looking for his television but otherwise no, I didn't. He didn't find his television as the place had also been looted. It was a battle ruined ghost town. When I left it was being repopulated by people from Sirte.

Did you spend most of your time in Misrata with the same group of people?  

 
Yes

Could you give some more details of the people you spent time with in Misrata?

Not really. Nothing interesting, at any rate. They were regular Libyan people / journalists staying at the Gostik.

During your time in Misrata did you encounter anyone you'd describe as working for any foreign governments and assisting the rebels?

No

Did you encounter any other individuals acting as independent journalists in Misrata?


There were a LOT of freelancers in Misrata. Most of the people at the Gostik. Usually, they just name whoever their most recent / most regular customer is as their employer.

Were you told any stories about the start of the uprising in Libya?  Did they talk about peaceful protests being attacked with live ammunition?

Yep. Dr. Tameem, mainly. They are filmed.

What role did the women you encounter play in Misrata?

Nurses at the central hospital, mainly. I did not see a lot of women in Misrata, actually. This wasn't a women's rights thing, either, it was more of a 'Wow, Qaddafi's soldiers seem to really be rapetastic. We should send our women and daughters to the rear.' thing. It changed once the front lines got pushed back.

The ones in Benghazi carried AK's.

You mention rape by Gaddafi forces, can you give me any details of what you heard about it?  Did you hear any specific claims, or was it just a general view of the Gaddafi forces held by the rebels?

I was shown a video of some Qaddafi guys interrogating some captured rebels making crude remarks about their women. Nothing beyond that. It could have just been to rattle people. Then again, there was that truckload of seized rape supplies. Who knows.

Did you get the impression the rebels were using the term mercenaries for anyone who fought for Gaddafi, or did they use it for specific groups of fighters, for example black fighters?


It seemed overused but the sample group just wasn't large enough for me to say

How long did you spend with the ambulance crew?  Did you spend your time in Misrata with them until you returned to America?


The month of June, and yes, yes I did. More like forward medical faculty. Not 'ambulance crew'

So after June you returned to America.  Did you take the same route out of the country?

Nope, I left by way of Malta aboard the Al Entisar.

Tomorrow Kevin Dawes describes his return to Misrata, and the journey to Sirte.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Kevin Dawes Part One - Arrival

Kevin Dawes, from San Diego, California travelled to Libya in June 2011 as a photojournalist, and almost immediately became involved with assisting rebel medics on the Dafniyah-Misrata frontline, and eventually ended up fighting alongside the rebels in Sirte, where his time in Libya came to a sudden and violent end.  He filmed much of what he experienced in Libya, and has uploaded around 300 of those videos onto his Youtube Channel.

The following map details some of the locations visited by Kevin Dawes in Libya, along with videos filmed in the area:


View videos and locations visited by Kevin Dawes in a larger map




What were your initial motivations and aims for your visit to Libya?  Was there anything or anyone in particular who inspired you to make the journey?
I wanted to try something different.  Believe it, or not, Robert King. A lot of people will probably give me a lot of flak for this but you have to remember that he filmed his growing up period.

How did you get from San Diego to Misrata?
Expedia to Cairo, Egypt where my plan was to locate and hire a fixer. This was an expensive and involved process. I eventually found a tour guide who only coughed up a driver into Libya after putting me through all kinds of ridiculous tourist shit. I got sunburn and spent way too much money in Egypt greasing that guy, greasing the right people to get my armor out of hoc, etc. It was pretty terrible.

It turns out that Malta was a much shorter and cheaper route. I could have spent 10% or less of what I ultimate did. It pays to know people who don't hate you (ahem) and are willing to pass on travel tips. I get the impression that the first time is the only expensive one.

The drive from Cairo to the border was very long. I was accompanied by one Egyptian police officer and one Egyptian police official. When we arrived at Sallem there were few people crossing from Libya but an almost infinite stream of brand new Hiluxes flowing in, all loaded with fighters and weapons in covered beds. The police officer looked very dismayed and the police official had the most incredible look of smug. I wish I knew what was going on there.

After Sallem I changed drivers and was driven to Benghazi. We stopped in Tobruk on the way there for bread and cheese. There were many checkpoints manned by bored looking fighters and parts of the drive reminded me of photos that I had seen of Afghanistan. Beautiful, lush, grass-carpeted valleys separated by tall rippling stony crests of semi-vegetated desert. It was beautiful, yet foreboding, country. The hulks of burnt out armored vehicles could be seen here and there on the side of the road.

Finally, I arrived at the Alnoran Hotel in Benghazi and discovered the ridiculous prices they were charging. To this point I had been chasing rumors of a free hotel for journalists. There was one- it was just in Misrata. I was in Benghazi for several days before finally arranging passage to Misrata. Much like a fallout game this involved speaking to the other journalists and denizens of the Alnoran hotel and completing various side quests. Benghazi was full of random blasts and gunfire. Also, panicky evacuations from the military base next door.

The first side quest involved getting a cellular telephone SIM card for the rebel cell network. My first attempt resulted in me borrowing and then inadvertently stealing one from some guy due to a breakdown in communications. I apologized after he called me and demanded to know what the fuck I was doing and we tried it again. This second attempt resulted in a successful SIM card purchase. Remember, I had not learnt any Arabic yet at this point on my trip.

Through these same guys I managed to meet a local guide who apparently owned an Egyptian brand money pump of his own. He showed me Benghazi and I learnt about the battles there. He eventually helped me secure my court permissions to travel to Misrata.

One of the guys there was obviously some kind of gangster. He kept trying to get me to leave the hotel with him to see 'his studio'. I'm pretty sure he wanted to mug me. There were a few other journalists there from various outlets that I never saw again after leaving for Misrata with the exception of one fellow that I met from the New York Times who I ran into again at Kubre Estada where he interviewed me about why I had a rifle and was sitting at a guard post processing refugees.

This is a very common theme for my trip. The first encounter and then the distant second encounter. It happened with doctors I met, seeing them in June as harried medical students pressed into service and then again in October as fire breathing thuwar. It happened with security guys (kids, really, we cooked together sometimes) I knew at the Gostik who I later encountered in Sirte. It even happened with a set of three pairs of Hexarmor cut gloves I brought with me and left at the Gostik. I was there in Sirte and suddenly this column of four kids snaked past me and they were all wearing those gloves. One 'pair' was only two left gloves and wouldn't you know it some of them only had the left glove. It happened with the people I was on the Jaraffa (fishing boat) from Benghazi to Misrata on when they began to show up wounded at the field hospital.

The second appearance is where you suck your breath in.

Theoretically the other journalists sailed there as well- just on a much bigger boat than I did. An older fellow with a bald head whose name I don't recall- I remember his accent being britaustralish and faint, indicated that they were travelling on one of the missile cruisers. The Times guy was very helpful in explaining how to get started (solicit everybody, etc.) as well as the mechanics behind passage to Misrata.

There was also a Japanese guy there who had a panic attack and literally fled the hotel. I managed to stop him from running screaming into the night and he took the time to interview me. I was trying to reassure him that he'd be fine. It ended with me giving him a tour of my medic bag. I have no idea what happened to this footage. I'm wearing a bathrobe (Boondock Saints style) in it.

There were also some guys I'm pretty confident were NTC spies there to check up on us and make sure we weren't Qaddafi terrorists. I ran into one of them again later in Misrata. All he did was drive next to me very slowly trying to get me to get into his truck. I ignored him for a block or so (oh god oh god oh god) until he finally just said: 'HEY! HEY! WE'RE COOL! LOOK! WE ARE COOL!' before flashing the peace sign  and driving off. After that I had no real problems in Libya. Interpret these events however you'd like. It could be a coincidence.

I finished some missing parts of my medic bag here- trading for supplies with Sonia at the Benghazi hospital. I also had the captain of the boat I got passage on see her when his diabetes seemed 'blinding' bad. He was in rough shape but he made the voyage. He let me use his cabin to store my things and I had access to the wheelhouse. I spent a lot of time sitting there in the dark while we crossed the Gulf of Sirte listening to NATO's 'kill you all' broadcast on infinite repeat. The vessel itself had twin towed guns on the stern and a load of ammo in the hold. We were so low in the water that we almost sank during a storm and so full of bombs that if the boat caught fire there was no possible way that we could have swum far enough away to avoid getting blast decapitated in the water.

It was very tense. Sitting there in that pitch dark wheelhouse lit only by red light and tracking a GPS heading in absurd seas while listening to a radio warning about how vessels like ours qualified as 'targets for destruction'- that was a little Nick Danger, yeah. It certainly felt that way. Well, it turns out that this is actually a pretty typical experience for a journalist in areas like these. The scary part was whenever the radio would fuzz out in a loud blast of static. You can hear it on the radio set whenever a search or targeting radar paints the boat.

I did handle the wheel during a particularly rough part of the storm because the wheelman (wheelkid, actually) had his arms get tired. The key to steering a ship like that is slow, long-thinking corrections. Don't try to chase the sea. You'll spin in a circle.

I met a lot of amazing people on this boat. It's true what they say. Facing a common danger binds men together. Even long after our trip we would greet each other very warmly. The stars at night were amazing. We fished a little and saw a JSTARS aircraft turning slow orbits over the gulf of Sirte. We also had two Typhoons buzz our vessel.

I started two IVs on that boat. Three if you count the practice IV I ran in on myself while we were waiting around in Benghazi. Both for dehydration, though after evaluating the guys they didn't seem all that dehydrated. The part that made it fun was that I had to do it below decks in pitching seas while a NATO frigate investigated us and was presumably deciding if we were a target for destruction. One took two sticks and he got a moderate hematoma from the first which subsided. Deeper veins than I had thought for a skinny fellow. The other I got in one. A liter of saline a piece later and they were right as rain or at least thought they were. Since they were adults and healthy I figured that they could take their bolus and that I should probably humor them. They were bedridden. I was going by saliva production and skin plasticity.

I was badly alarmed by the appearance of the frigate and the fact that the captain was totally ignoring them on the radio as they demanded we identify ourselves. The towed guns were under tarps, but it was only about as effective as a thin white cotton t-shirt on a well endowed women after it has been drenched with water. That and how low we were in the water. Fish aren't that heavy. Nobody else seemed alarmed. All the captain said to us was: 'French frigate!' The meaning of this statement would only become clear later once it was revealed that the French were supplying arms to the rebels.

The frigate circled us once and then left. After this we steamed the remaining 25 miles (I believe it was a 25 mile picket line) into Misrata.

Can you describe the situation in Misrata when you first arrived?

The whole place seemed completely empty. We were expecting to land under heavy shellfire and the harbor had already taken several hits. Luckily it was clear when we landed. I made my way to the hotel (the free one) settled in, and made friends with the journalists there. I met some very interesting people including one I only know as 'The Ghost' because of his sunken eyes, lack of speech, and ability to only show you gruesome combat footage on his tiny camera in the same way that the guy from Red Dragon showed off his tattoos.

The front line was the city limits. It was a desperate situation. Food was very scarce. Do you remember the story about the journalists becoming trapped in the Rixos Hotel as the war began to come to an end?

They complained about the food in the story. The food they complain about in that story was the best available food we had at the Gostik. I often found myself combining two mostly-eaten cans of tuna, some crackers, and maybe the jam residue from a jar people had given up hope on into a meal. Your stomach is acidic. Your immune system is strong. Mold means safe. Eat or die. While it is true the hotel did very generously provide food for a time this dried up before long. With no functioning banks and a budget that had been sucked nearly dry by horrible fixer experiences which I will *never repeat* I was stuck.

I had made some friends in the city and between these guys and my own geek-like determination to stay fed I came through this part just fine. The Libyans were, and are, the most generous people on the face of the earth. I even had the owner of a burger establishment give me a discounted sandwich. Everybody gets one, he said, by sternly holding up one finger. I never managed to pay him back before leaving the second time around.

When you first arrived in Misrata what did you do? 
I took the best shower of my entire life. It was ice cold but I did not care. I was laughing and happier than I had ever been in my entire life.

Where there other foreigners in the city aside from journalists that you noticed when you first arrived? 


No, not immediately. Those guys fell out of the woodwork later.

Inside the Gostik Hotel


Was there a certain part of Misrata you were staying in?

Yeah, the Gos El Teek (Gostik) hotel. I still have the card in my wallet. It's near the center of the city.

You've mentioned bringing body armour and medical supplies with you, could you tell me what else you brought with you?

Beyond the body armor and medical supplies?  Clothing, bug spray, a water filter, multivitamins, sleeping bag and accompanying kit. My multi-tool, which was invaluable, my flashlight, map, paracord, a gas mask, and a GPS that was useless for most of June because of the jamming.  I also used my iPhone as a back up camera, that footage is kind of interesting.  I also had a ton of malarone with me in case of malaria. Also Zithromax, which I ended up using to treat an upper respiratory infection. I had to do this twice during the trip. Zithromax was highly effective both times. The second time I had to source it locally.

I actually was massively over equipped and spent most of my time reducing my equipment.

Can you tell me how you researched what equipment you would need in Libya?

I asked people who had done it or similar things before. I had a lot of friends in the military, for example, so they were able to give me some idea as to what to expect and what sorts of problems I would face. The key to doing something like this successfully is intricate planning and careful preparation. Little things like getting vaccinations to somewhat larger things like making sure you are in good enough shape to meet the physical demands.

I also did a lot of research specific to the country of Libya.  Climate, insects, and so on. Classical Arabic did not work in Libya so all of this turned out to be useless. I had to learn Libyan. By ear.


Diary entry June 9th
Best day of my damn life.  A random Libyan donated 200 dinars to me on the street for no reason.

I caught a ride to the front (Daphniya - an aid station) and then to the real front from first a random "Libyan" then a genuine one.

The genuine one was a doctor I met at the aid station.  He was the one who drove Tim Hetherington back while he was dying.

I have him most of my medical supplies.  I hope he uses them well.

We demonstrated my flash IV caths to the docs at the field hospital (not the med station) and they went home.  Tomorrow (today as I am writing this entry late) we will go to the media centre and arrange for a shipment of supplies (including IO drivers from chinook medical through malta.

The choice item is a portable vent, also AED's.

The rebels also have a killdozer, which they showed me.  I met the designer and got inside.

Very awesome

You've filmed footage in June of the armoured vehicle constructed by the rebels in Misrata that was later deployed towards the end of the fighting in Sirte, popularly described as the "Libyan Killdozer".  Could you tell us how you came across it? 

It happened to be housed at that part of the front. Dr. Tameem and I stopped by while we were driving around. It was well known to other journalists but we were the only ones allowed in.



So once you arrived in Misrata and found a place to stay, what did you do next?

After I arrived I began looking for ways to get to the front line. I first asked the other journalists if I could accompany them as they went out. This resulted in a hearty round of corporate-clean 'Fuck you kid'-s as they breezed out of the door. It turns out (I was eventually let in on this) that everybody got everywhere by hitchhiking with random Libyans in front of the hotel. I soon adopted this practice after confirming that it wasn't a bad joke designed to get me killed. Misrata is not Benghazi and wartime is not peacetime.

I eventually met a man who agreed to drive me to the front. He took me as far as Dafniyah and no further as he said it was too dangerous. He dropped me off close to the aid station where I met the head of the Misrata hospital (al Hecma) to whom I presented a whole lot of medical supplies. This is when I met Dr. Tameem. He had me stick him a few times in front of other doctors to both IV qualify me and demonstrate the new equipment I had brought. The most valuable items were the chest seals and chest needles.

The supplies I had brought wouldn't last long but they did do a little good. The actual front line was not far away at about 10 kilometers. We were within easy bombardment range.  The 10 km mark was defined as the line of Qaddafi's forces. There was a very large no-man's land that began about 300 meters from the aid station.

After that, everything is captured pretty well in the video series. This would be June 8 and onward. My weapons identification is horrendous at this stage as is my Arabic. Both get better.

I eventually get conscripted and decide to hang around as a medical assistant. This was also filmed.

Tomorrow Kevin Dawes describes his experiences with the medical staff on the Dafniyah-Misrata frontline.

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmoses@gmail.com