Improvements in surgical care on the battlefield have contributed to reduced morbidity and mortality in wounded Servicemembers. 1 Point-of-injury care and early surgical intervention, along with improved personal protective equipment, have produced the lowest casualty statistics in modern warfare, resulting in improved force strength, morale, and social acceptance of conflict. It is undeniable that point-of-care injury, followed by early resuscitation and damage control surgery, saves lives on the battlefield. The US Army's Expeditionary Resuscitation Surgical Team (ERST) is a highly mobile, interprofessional medical team that can perform damage control resuscitation and surgery in austere locations. Its configuration and capabilities vary; however, in general, a typical surgical element can perform one major surgery and one minor surgery without resupply. The critical care element can provide prolonged holding in garrison, but this diminishes in the austere setting with complex and acutely injured patients.
Background: The application of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) represents evidence-based medicine to improve survival in combat. Over the past several years, US Air Force Pararescuemen (PJs) have expanded the mnemonic device "MARCH" to "MARCH PAWS" for use during tactical field care and tactical evacuation (TACEVAC). The mnemonic stands for massive bleeding, airway, respiration, circulation, head and hypothermia, pain, antibiotics, wounds, and splinting. We undertook this performance improvement project to determine the efficacy of this device as a treatment checklist. Methods: The mission reports of a 16-PJ combat rescue deployment to Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) from January through June 2012 were reviewed. The triage category, mechanism of injury, injury, and treatments were noted. The treatments were then categorized to determine if they were included in MARCH PAWS. Results: The recorded data for missions involving 465 patients show that 45%, 48%, and 7%, were in category A, B, and C, respectively (urgent, priority, routine); 55% were battle injuries (BIs) and 45% were nonbattle injuries (NBIs). All treatments for BI were accounted for in MARCH PAWS. Only 9 patients' treatments with NBI were not in MARCH PAWS. Conclusion: This simple mnemonic device is a reliable checklist for PJs, corpsmen, and medics to perform TACEVAC during combat Operations, as well as care for noncombat trauma patients.