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DMS helps clear land mines from Kosova

DMS administrator Anne Brisson, Ph.D., M.P.H., helped to destroy some of the last landmines in Kosova—and she has a certificate from the United Nations to prove it.

Anne Brisson, left, pictured here with Handicap International medic Luljeta Parashumti, helped destroy some landmines in Kosova. She didn't need the protective gear, however—she only tried it on to see how heavy it was.

As the administrative director of the Dartmouth-Kosova Project, Brisson travels to the Balkans frequently to work on DMS's collaborative efforts with the Prishtina School of Medicine and other organizations. On her latest trip, she met with officials of Handicap International (HI) to discuss how DMS faculty and students could help train medics who are part of HI's Mine Action Team. She even became a member of the team herself, at least for a little while.

"I blew up two antipersonnel mines," she says. "These landmines are small, a little bigger than a hockey puck . . . and would probably blow your foot off if you stepped on one." The mines had been found a few days earlier in an area a couple of hundred feet from a road and within sight of a school. They were brought to a training site and detonated safely. "I sprayed foam explosive on one of the mines," explains Brisson. Then she activated a handheld device that detonated a fuse attached to the mine. The resulting explosion was "more of a pop, with some black smoke rising," she says.

Brisson, who has also "worked with Kosova Albanians who have lost loved ones to landmine injuries," was glad to be "getting rid of mines meant to maim or kill people."

Once she was back in the U.S., Brisson continued to facilitate the exchange program between Dartmouth and Prishtina. Several Kosovar students arrived in the Upper Valley in August for a month's stay. And later this fall, DHMC orthopedic surgeons John Nutting, M.D., and Michael Sparks, M.D., as well as fourth-year medical student Timothy Pieh, plan to travel to Kosova to provide life-support training to medics who are involved in HI's mine-clearing project.


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