Courtesy of Tactical Life

The following is an Athlon Outdoors exclusive with Nik Frey, a 22-year-old surfer from Southern California who suddenly dropped everything and became a medic in Mosul.

If I told you that I spent my last month embedded with the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) treating civilian and military casualties in the Battle of Mosul, you might assume that I’m a soldier, operator, contractor or at least a veteran who has operated in war zones before. If I clarified that my role in Mosul was strictly medical — to save as many lives as close to the frontline as possible — you may assume that I’m a certified doctor or at least a senior paramedic. Or perhaps that I’m a well-connected war correspondent. In fact, I’m none of these things.

I’m nobody special. I’m a 22-year old surfer and outdoor-sports enthusiast who recently graduated from a beach-town university in California with a relatively useless degrees in political science and writing.

Although I’ve worked as a lifeguard and have an EMT-basic certification under my belt, I’ve never been paid to drive an ambulance and I’ve never been on track for medical school. Besides what I learned as an Army ROTC cadet in college (a career path I chose not to pursue), I had very little practical experience in treating combat trauma or warfighting in general. However, I did know that Iraqi/Kurdish civilians and soldiers fighting ISIS were dying daily and that modern understanding of emergency medicine in Iraq is incredibly lacking. So when I heard about a group of rogue medics from around the world who were literally saving lives in Iraq, I decided I was going to join them if they were willing to take me.

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Photo courtesy of Tactical Life