The OFFICIAL Journal of the Special Operations Medical Association.
Click the logo for more information.
Overhauling how citizens and medical providers respond to trauma, as well as how they collect and store blood, could save thousands of lives annually.
March 2020 Feature Article
The US Joint Trauma System (JTS) recommends stored whole blood (SWB) as the preferred product for prehospital resuscitation of battlefield casualties in both their Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines and their clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). Clinical data from nearly 2 decades of war during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) suggest that whole blood (WB) is safe, effective, and far superior to crystalloid and colloid resuscitation fluids. The JTS CPG for whole blood transfusion reflects the most recent clinical evidence but poses unique challenges for execution by Special Operations Forces (SOF) operating in austere environments. Given the limited shelf-life of 35 days, WB requires a constant steady pool of donors. Additionally, the cold-chain requirement for storage poses challenges for SOF on long missions without access to blood refrigerators. SOF operating in less-developed theaters face additional logistical challenges. To mitigate the challenges of WB delivery, US SOF have implemented various protocols to ensure optimal donor pool, awareness/education among medics and specialized equipment for tactical methods of blood-carry and delivery. In general, steps taken include the following: (1) Prior to deployment, soldiers are screened for blood type and titers in order to establish a large donor pool. Support soldiers have been found to be particularly beneficial donors as they typically are in closer proximity to the blood support detachment. (2) In units that operate in smaller teams, such as ODAs, medics are outfitted with "blood kits" to carry blood on missions for point of injury transfusion. In units with larger teams, LTOWB donors are identified on missions and deliver fresh WB in the event of casualties. (3) Medics receive a WB transfusion refresher tabletop exercise and review after action reviews from previous rotations. Additionally, prehospital WB delivery is a required component of scenario-based premission training. The expectation is that medics will administer WB on missions when tactically feasible. Using the prolonged field care framework (ruck, truck, house) as a template, medics now use different methods to store and transport the SWB depending on phase. Medic "truck" and "house" kits include the Dometic CFX™ powered coolers that run on AC, DC, or solar power and allow for constant temperature monitoring. When on foot, medics have been outfitted with tactical blood coolers including the Pelican Biomedical Medic 4™ or Combat Medical Blood Box™ along with a Belmont Buddy-Lite™ intravenous (IV) infusion warmer and IV administration kit with standard micron filter. Presently, SOF medics have the donor support, logistical framework, training, and equipment to deliver WB at the point of injury. However, widespread implementation will require expanded distribution and standardization of "blood kits." Additionally, SOF medical planners must put greater emphasis on education and the importance of WB over crystalloids or colloids-as many medics continue to carry only these products out of convenience. As SOF strive to establish tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and streamline prehospital WB delivery, we must constantly reassess and refine our procedures, incorporate the latest evidence and technology, and adapt to an evolving battlefield.
Integrating Military and Civilian Trauma Systems to Achieve Zero Preventable Deaths after Injury
Advances in trauma care have accelerated over the past decade, spurred by the significant burden of injury from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Between 2005 and 2013, the case fatality rate for United States Servicemembers injured in Afghanistan decreased by nearly 50 percent, despite an increase in the severity of injury among U.S. troops during the same period of time. But as the war in Afghanistan ends, knowledge and advances in trauma care developed by the Department of Defense (DoD) over the past decade from experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq may be lost. This would have implications for the quality of trauma care both within the DoD and in the civilian setting, where adoption of military advances in trauma care has become increasingly common and necessary to improve the response to multiple civilian casualty events.
This report documents the remarkable decrease in casualties killed in action during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the role of the Joint Trauma System, the CoTCCC, and the TCCC Working Group in helping to make that happen. It also outlines a clear and comprehensive vision for a National Trauma System that will enable the civilian and the military sectors to work in concert to help prevent ALL potentially preventable deaths in trauma victims.Download a free PDF copy of the IOM Report
What Our Readers are Saying
I just finished reading the fall edition of the JSOM and I am completely blown away!!!! It is absolutely packed with exceptional and relevant information that without a doubt, will assist SOF Tactical Health Care professionals in providing relevant and evidence based patient care. Thank you for providing what I consider a "World Class Medical Journal". The journal itself and the website have become my primary resource for knowledge in tactical medicine."
Robert M. Miller
North American Rescue
Chief Innovation Officer
"There is no peer-reviewed academic resource that equals the Journal of Special Operations Medicine for support of the medical and veterinary lead in Stabilization, Security, Transition and Reconstruction (SSTR) operations, combat and field medicine, and adaptation of Tactical Combat Casualty Care into Tactical Emergency Casualty Care for the law enforcement and emergency management community in 195 UN member countries. JSOM is a valuable resource as we continue the Millennium Medicine Project, targeting the global population that lacks access to basic surgical services and providing crisis management, security, and defense support in this demographic."
Stephen M. Apatow
President, Humanitarian Resource Institute
(UN:NGO:DESA) and H-II OPSEC: Defense Support:
Humanitarian and Security Operations
"Military units that have trained all of their members in Tactical Combat Casualty Care have documented the lowest incidence of preventable deaths among their casualties in the history of modern warfare - and JSOM is the first journal to publish every new change in TCCC."
Frank K. Butler, MD
Chairman, Committee on Tactical
Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC)
"The past 30 years has brought an amazing professionalization of the specialty of Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS). As new standards are set and the world faces increasingly complex security challenges, it is critical that the front line medical providers supporting military, intelligence, and law enforcement operations have a mechanism to expand their knowledge and share best practices. The Journal of Special Operations Medicine offers civilian readers access to the most cutting edge developments in the field including updates on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC), the National TEMS Imitative and Council (NTIC), and combat lessons learned. JSOM is the one-stop shop for best practice and future advancements in civilian TEMS. One of the unifying principles across humanitarian, expedition and disaster response medical operations is the ability to make complex decisions in uncertain environments. The Journal of Special Operations Medicine is one of the most unique platforms for experts to convey lessons learned and relevant scientific advances across specialties that historically have little interaction. Whether you work for Doctors Without Borders, a DMAT, or provide medical support for expeditions in austere environments, Journal of Special Operations Medicine is your journal."
David W. Callaway, MD
Director, Division of Operational and Disaster Medicine
Operational Medical Director, Carolinas MED-1
Co-Chairman, The Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (C-TECC)
Civilian Vice President, Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA)