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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
'I was injured in Iraq - by a whirlwind'
Karen Joynson in Iraq, before the tornado struck
Karen's escapade brought her ribbing from colleagues in Iraq

Royal Navy Reservist Karen Joynson was sent out to Iraq to give medical aid to those injured in the war, but she ended up needing treatment herself after a freak weather accident.

Here the 30-year-old from Merseyside, tells BBC News Online what happened when a tornado sent her air bound.

I had been in Iraq about a week-and-a-half. I was really excited about going out and getting a chance to experience my first service abroad.

I'd done nearly all my medical exams and was working in one of the largest field hospitals, near Basra.

It was early one morning - I was with some friends and we were washing out clothes during a break, when I saw this wind picking up.

I ran into a tent and the next thing I knew the tent was picked up off the ground with me in it

Usually when helicopters come down they disturb the land and that's all it looked like, so I started to move because I didn't want it to dirty the clothes.

I ran into a tent, and the next thing I knew the tent was picked up off the ground with me in it.

The tents out there are dug into concrete so I did not expect it to move, but I was lifted about 30ft into the air.


All I remember is seeing the ground coming up.

I was dragged by the tornado and then I hit something. I thought at first it was a wall, but there are no walls here so I think it was a container.

I didn't remember anything else until I woke up in the accident and emergency hospital where I had been working.

I broke my collarbone and eight ribs and, after being treated in Basra, I was flown back to the UK from Kuwait where I was treated in Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.

In one of my last letters home beforehand I wrote that the wind was picking up!

I came in for all sorts of jokes from my colleagues out there, who nicknamed me Dorothy, like Judy Garland in the Wizard Of Oz.

My ex, Brian Pickup, gave me a little dog he said was called Toto - like the one in the story - and I had a few people say they were trying to find me red shoes so that I could go home.

But I said I did not need red shoes to get home, and I was flown back very quickly afterwards.


My family - mum and dad, brother and sister - were worried about me, but I was able to call and reassure them before I left Iraq.

I hope to stay in the Navy Reserves. I've been told my condition will improve and everything should knit back together again.

When I first told people I'd been hit by a tornado in Iraq they were a bit shocked, thinking I meant the fighter planes, so now I call it a twister.

But it made for a very memorable trip for different reasons.

I'd never heard of tornados or twisters happening out there, but funnily enough in one of my last letters home beforehand I wrote that the wind was picking up!

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