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Featured Articles

Winter 2019

Medical Screening of a Repatriated Afghan National Army Special Operations Command Prisoner of War

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Florance JM, Hicks M. 19(4). 16 - 18. (Case Reports)

Abstract

The Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A) Surgeon partnered with the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) Surgeon to complete medical screening of a repatriated ANASOC soldier following a 2019 combined raid on a Taliban prison that freed 35 prisoners of war (POWs). This article discusses the presentation and management of the ANASOC POW while also providing a literature review of common pathologies within the POW population. The purpose of this document is to address a unique aspect of military medicine in the expectation that future military providers are prepared to receive repatriated soldiers and prepared to care for fellow prisoners should they themselves become captured.

Keywords: Afghanistan; Afghan Campaign 2001-present; military medicine; warfare; war wounds; military personnel; prisoners; veterans; prisons; terrorism

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Severe Lower Body Swelling and Bacteremia Secondary to Shewanella algae Bacteremia During Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL Training

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Bridwell RE, Carius BM, Oliver JJ. 19(4). 19 - 21. (Case Reports)

Abstract

Shewanella algae is a unique bacterium largely documented in skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) with a wide range of presentations from gas-producing necrotizing fasciitis to osteomyelitis. Seawater exposure to lower extremity ulcers and wounds is most often correlated with infection, which has been documented in causing complications of bacteremia, sepsis, and infective endocarditis. Further complicating treatment is poor response to most empiric regimens prior to definitive diagnosis and an uneven response to antibiotics, including documented resistance to carbapenem. This case documents the presentation of a Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) training candidate who presented acutely for complaints of severe lower body swelling and abrasions during "Hell Week" and was found to have polymicrobial bacteremia with Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus, and S algae.

Keywords: Shewanella algae; bacteremia; military training; underwater

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TCCC Critical Decision Case Studies

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Anonymous A. 19(4). 22 - 24. (Classical Conference)

Keywords: case reports; bleeding; TCCC

2019 Recommended Limb Tourniquets in Tactical Combat Casualty Care

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Montgomery HR, Hammesfahr R, Fisher AD, Cain JS, Greydanus DJ, Butler FK, Goolsby C, Eastman AL. 19(4). 27 - 50. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Military and civilian trauma can be distinctly different but the leading cause of preventable trauma deaths in the prehospital environment, extremity hemorrhage, does not discriminate. The current paper is the most comprehensive review of limb tourniquets employable in the tactical combat casualty care environment and provides the first update to the CoTCCC-recommended limb tourniquets since 2005. This review also highlights the lack of unbiased data, official reporting mechanisms, and official studies with established criteria for evaluating tourniquets. Upon review of the data, the CoTCCC voted to update the recommendations in April 2019.

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Interoperable Readiness to Use Tourniquets by One's Familiarity With Different Models

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Kragh JF, Aden JK, Dubick MA. 19(4). 51 - 57. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: We investigated interoperability for a first aid provider to perform simulated use of three tourniquet models of maximal, moderate, and minimal familiarity. Methods: The experiment was focused on the tourniquets used by an expert who rendered aid on a manikin by using three models of tourniquet with different extents of familiarity: The familiarity with Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) was maximal; that for Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet (SOFTT) was moderate, and that for Military Emergency Tourniquet (MET) was minimal. Each model had a band-and-rod design. Interoperability changes as intermodel differences were beneficial or costly in that performances were improved or impaired in units of time, ease, blood, and pressure. Each model had 10 tests, and test order was randomized by model. The HapMed Leg Tourniquet Trainer simulated a limb amputation. Results: In comparison of interoperability burdens, sums of 10 test durations by model for C-A-T, SOFTT, and MET were 38, 77, and 64 minutes, respectively; C-A-T was fastest (p ≤ .002, both). The sums of times to stop bleeding for C-A-T, SOFTT, and MET were 334, 953, and 826 seconds, respectively; C-A-T was fastest (p ≤ .0013, both). The sums of blood losses for C-A-T, SOFTT, and MET were 2105, 3287, and 4256mL, respectively; that for C-A-T was least (p ≤ .0005, both). The mean ease of use differed, with C-A-T being easiest (p ≤ .0046, both). The mean pressure differed, with C-A-T being higher than SOFTT (p = .0073). Conclusions: Timesaving strongly favored the model with which the user had maximal familiarity. In theory and simulation, interoperability bears costs in successfully attaining it, in maintaining it, and in failing either. The user's familiarity with tourniquet model was associated with improved interoperability as seen by improved performances. If multiple models are fielded, then organizations may plan on extra spending, supplying, training, and managing.

Keywords: tourniquet model; Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T); Special Forces Tactical Tourniquet (SOFTT); Military Emergency Tourniquet (MET); interoperability; manikin; emergency; first aid

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Leveraging Combat Casualty Reporting in the Afghan National Army Special Operations Command for Evidence-Based Changes in the ANASOC School of Excellence

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Florance JM, Hicks M. 19(4). 59 - 61. (Journal Article)

Abstract

The Afghan National Army Special Operations Command (ANASOC) uses several documents for casualty reporting. By analyzing these documents from a period of March to December 2018, the authors demonstrate the predominance of gunshot fatalities within ANASOC at approximately 63% of combat deaths and a high rate of prehospital death at approximately 97% of combat deaths. The data also demonstrate relatively few cases of long-term disability from ANASOC soldiers wounded in action. The authors used these conclusions to create a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan (CJSOTF-A) working group that recommended changes to the medical curriculum at the ANASOC School of Excellence. These recommendations centered on an increased emphasis on bleeding control to prevent death from hemorrhagic shock.

Keywords: Afghanistan; military medicine; warfare; wounds and injuries; war wounds; violence; military personnel; wounds; gunshot; wounds; penetrating; blast injuries

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Getting "SMART" on Shock Treatment: An Evidence-Based Mnemonic Acronym for the Initial Management of Hemorrhage in Trauma

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Thompson P, Hudson AJ. 19(4). 62 - 65. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Treating hemorrhagic shock is challenging, the pathology is complex, and time is critical. Treatment requires resources in mental bandwidth (i.e., focused attention), drugs and blood products, equipment, and personnel. Providers must focus on treatment options in order of priority while also maintaining a dynamic assessment of the patient's response to treatment and considering potential differential diagnoses. In this process, the cognitive load is substantial. To avoid errors of clinical reasoning and practical errors of commission, omission, or becoming fixated, it is necessary to use evidence-based treatment recommendations that are concise, in priority order, and easily recalled. This is particularly the case in the austere, remote, or tactical environment. A simple mnemonic acronym, SMART, is presented in this article. It is a clinical heuristic that can be used as an aide-mémoire during the initial phases of resuscitation of the trauma patient with hemorrhagic shock: Start the clock and Stop the bleeding; Maintain perfusion; Administer antifibrinolytics; Retain heat; Titrate blood products and calcium; Think of alternative causes of shock.

Keywords: hemorrhage; shock; treatment; mnemonic; acronym; heuristic

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Performance Enhancement Assessment and Coaching in US Army Special Operations: Rapidly Enhancing Performance Through Targeted, Tailored Feedback

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Barry DM, DeVries M. 19(4). 66 - 73. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Performance enhancement coaching poses significant benefits to individuals and organizations, such as improved job satisfaction and goal achievement. Given their training and experience in assessment and feedback, operational psychologists assigned to Special Operations units are uniquely positioned to provide performance enhancement coaching tailored to Operators and enablers. A preliminary program evaluation was conducted of the Performance Enhancement Assessment and Coaching (PEAC) Program. Methods: A sample of 32 Operators and enablers assigned to a US Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) unit voluntarily participated in the PEAC Program and completed one 90-minute coaching session. Following their coaching session, Soldiers provided qualitative and quantitative feedback on their coaching experience. Results: Soldiers overwhelmingly agreed that the PEAC Program was worth their time and helpful towards achieving their goals. Results indicate the PEAC Program enhanced Soldiers' perceived self-awareness, self-efficacy, and job performance. Results also suggest performance enhancement coaching may improve pass rates on interpersonally demanding Special Operations courses. Conclusion: Performance enhancement coaching delivers considerable value for Special Operations personnel and their organizations in relatively minimal time. Operational psychologist coaches (OPCs) assigned to Special Operations units can leverage their assessment skills to provide targeted, tailored performance enhancement coaching and increase value to their organizations.

Keywords: coaching; performance enhancement; operational psychology; assessment

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The Potential Use of the Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet® in a Military Population: A Review of Requirement, Effectiveness, and Usability

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Handford C, Parker PJ. 19(4). 74 - 79. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Uncontrolled hemorrhage is the leading cause of preventable prehospital death on the battlefield; 20% is junctional. This is a challenge to manage in the forward and prehospital military environment. With the widespread use of body armor, peripheral tourniquets and continued asymmetric warfare this consistent figure is unlikely to reduce. Resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) is an often-quoted potential solution; however, this invasive strategy requires a high skill level alongside a significant failure and complication rate. The Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet® (AAJT) is a noninvasive potential adjunct for the management of hemorrhage below the level of the aortic bifurcation with published case reports of successful use in prehospital blast and gunshot wounds. When placed at the level of the aortic bifurcation, alongside a pelvic binder, it can be used to control pelvic hemorrhage, buying time until definitive management. Importantly it has a low training burden and is easy to use. The AAJT has potential use as a prehospital device in the exsanguinating patient, those in traumatic cardiac arrest, as a bridging device, and as fluid conserving device in resource-limited environments. The evidence surrounding the AAJT is reviewed, and potential uses in the military setting are suggested.

Keywords: tourniquet; trauma; military; junctional; hemorrhage; combat; mortality; pelvic injury; prehospital

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Pharmacokinetics of Tranexamic Acid via Intravenous, Intraosseous, and Intramuscular Routes in a Porcine (Sus scrofa) Hemorrhagic Shock Model

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DeSoucy ES, Davidson AJ, Hoareau GL, Simon MA, Tibbits EM, Ferencz SE, Grayson JK, Galante JM. 19(4). 80 - 84. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: Intravenous (IV) tranexamic acid (TXA) is an adjunct for resuscitation in hemorrhagic shock; however, IV access in these patients may be difficult or impossible. Intraosseous (IO) or intramuscular (IM) administration could be quickly performed with minimal training. We investigated the pharmacokinetics of TXA via IV, IO, and IM routes in a swine model of controlled hemorrhagic shock. Methods: Fifteen swine were anesthetized and bled of 35% of their blood volume before randomization to a single 1g/10mL dose of IV, IO, or IM TXA. Serial serum samples were obtained after TXA administration. These were analyzed with high-pressure liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to determine drug concentration at each time point and define the pharmacokinetics of each route. Results: There were no significant differences in baseline hemodynamics or blood loss between the groups. Peak concentration (Cmax) was significantly higher in IV and IO routes compared with IM (p = .005); however, the half-life of TXA was similar across all routes (p = .275). Conclusion: TXA administration via IO and IM routes during hemorrhagic shock achieves serum concentrations necessary for inhibition of fibrinolysis and may be practical alternatives when IV access is not available.

Keywords: shock; hemorrhagic; tranexamic acid; intravenous access

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Shared Blood: Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical Team (ERST-5) Use of Local Whole Blood to Improve Resuscitation of Host Nation Partner Forces

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Bowman M, Ashbaucher J, Cohee B, Fisher MS, Jennette JB, Huse JD, Copeland C, Muir KB. 19(4). 85 - 87. (Journal Article)

Abstract

US Special Operations Forces work by, with, and through partner forces (PFs) to accomplish mutual objectives. Surgical teams support these forces directly and may assist in treating injuries sustained by PF, based on established medical rules of engagement. These surgical operations are often conducted in austere conditions, with limited access to blood products. Limited blood product availability decreases US medical capacity to resuscitate injured PFs and augment the local trauma system. We present an innovative solution used by an expeditionary resuscitative surgical team (ERST) and Special Operations civil affairs team to partner with host nation (HN) medical personnel to improve PF access to damage control resuscitation and surgery. Whole blood obtained through a local HN hospital was provided to the ERST to allow for increased capacity to resuscitate PF casualties and augment the local trauma system. The ERST subsequently used this blood to resuscitate two PF surgical casualties.

Keywords: walking blood bank; stored whole blood; austere surgical team; US military

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Prehospital Whole Blood in SOF: Current Use and Future Directions

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Jones TB, Moore VL, Shishido AA. 19(4). 88 - 90. (Journal Article)

Abstract

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.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Future of Drones in Tactical/Operational Medicine

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Bradley KD. 19(4). 91 - 93. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have seen expansion with their applications in many fields, including the opportunity these tools offer to improve medical care. Drones have significant potential for use in the tactical setting. New, unique possibilities for these drones are emerging constantly, but there is no standardized inclusion specifically with tactical medicine operations. This article is a review of the future possibilities of drones, the associated risks that drones present, and the current application of drone technology in the field of civilian operational/tactical medicine.

Keywords: drone(s); medical; medicine; tactical; operational; UAV; unmanned aerial vehicle

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The Rise of the Stop the Bleed Campaign in Italy

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Valsecchi D, Sassi G, Tiraboschi L, Bonetti M, Lagazzi E, Michelon AM, Nicolussi T, Stevan A, Bonasera-Vincenti NM, Guelfi-Pulvano R, Tripodi R. 19(4). 95 - 99. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Background: The B-Con Basic 1.0 protocol is a medical training designed to teach how to control massive external haemorrhages in emergency conditions. Spread throughout the United States since 2013, thanks to the Stop the Bleed campaign, it has seen a progressive international spread during 2016-2018. We report here data from the first 18 months of our training in Italy. Methods: Since January 2017, military Operators enlisted to the Volunteer Military Corps of the Italian Red Cross and registered to the ACS B-Con instructor database have provided B-Con courses. These instructors have provided extensive training, involving learners among military and civilian populations, especially health professionals and students. Further, they have obtained a formal adhesion to the National Stop the Bleed Day 2018. Results: Through August 2018, we trained 1186 learners in Italy on the B-Con protocol. The learners were mainly military personnel and law enforcement agents (620 [52%]) but also students and civilian health personnel (566 [48%]). Conclusion: The B-Con protocol has been very well received in Italy by military and police personnel. Good results have been assessed among civilian health professionals and medical students, especially by those operators involved in the field of emergency medicine.

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Measuring Special Operations Forces Readiness

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Berry KG, Sakallaris B, Deuster PA. 19(4). 100 - 104. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Special Operations Force (SOF) Operators, spouses, and component representatives were asked to describe what readiness looks like to them and what is needed to achieve it. Their views informed a broad and deep dive into the academic and gray literature for believable measures relevant to operational readiness. This commentary is a synthesis of that work and provides recommendations for ways to improve "readying" strategies, practices, and outcomes to better achieve human- based mission performance. The key modifiers of Operator readiness are family, SOF culture and leadership, and time. Recommendations are to measure SOF mission performance to define premission Operator readiness; conceptualize mission readiness in terms of assets and not just deficits; combine experiential wisdom with that gained from the study of in-mission performance and premission readiness data; establish SOF phenotypes for use by all components; address emerging fields (doping, sleep, mental toughness, spiritual readiness, moral injury); and develop a simple readiness index.

Keywords: family readiness; mission performance; operator readiness; POTFF; Special Operations Forces

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Leprosy (Hansen's Disease)

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Crecelius EM, Burnett MW. 19(4). 105 - 107. (Journal Article)

Keywords: infectious disease; leprosy; Hansen's Disease

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Powassan Virus: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Anonymous A. 19(4). 108 - 108. (Journal Article)

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United States Military Parachute Injuries: Part 2: Interventions Reducing Military Parachute Injuries in Training and Operations

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Knapik JJ. 19(4). 109 - 113. (Journal Article)

Abstract

This is part 2 of an article detailing the reduction in airbornerelated injuries over time. Part 1 examined the early history of airborne operations and provided evidence for the reduction in injuries over time; part 2 discusses interventions associated with the decline in injury rates. In 1943 at the United States (US) Army Airborne School, data showed that injuries were substantially reduced from 120 to 18 injuries/1000 trainees. Credit for the reduction was given to development of the parachute landing fall (PLF), better supervision of students while in initial airborne training, intensive ground training prior to actual jumping, and elimination of dangerous and unnecessary training procedures (like practice jumps from 11-foot heights). Compared to the older T-10 parachute introduced in the 1950s, the newer T-11 parachute introduced in 2010 reduced injuries by 43% in operational training (9.1 vs 5.2 injuries/1000 jumps). In aircraft with jump doors on both sides, alternating jumps between the doors so that the jumpers exit at slightly different times reduced high-altitude and mid-altitude entanglement injuries by 85% (0.13 to 0.02 injury/ 1000 jumps). Data from six scientific studies involving more than 1,300,000 jumps and two systematic reviews indicated that the parachute ankle brace (PAB) reduced ankle injuries and ankle fractures by about half with an estimated return on investment of at least $7 in medical and personnel costs for every $1 spent on the PAB. However, the PAB is not currently used or even well-known within the airborne community because of a lack of acceptance and promotion. While some airborne injury-reducing innovations are discussed here it is likely that there have been others that have not been documented. It is important to detail these interventions so future paratroopers and leaders can better understanding their rationale and effectiveness.

Keywords: T-10 parachute; T-11 parachute; parachute ankle brace; Controlled Alternating Parachute Exit System (CAPES); airborne school

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Applying Swiss Armed Forces Training Didactics and Methodology for Tactical Combat Casualty Care Training

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Anonymous A. 19(4). 114 - 117. (Journal Article)

Abstract

Some of the current methods of instruction used within international armed forces courses are not always goal oriented and satisfactory for both the teaching staff and the student. The Swiss Armed Forces approach presented here has been historically effective in preparing and sustaining national conscription with large numbers of recruits and new cadres every year.

Keywords: comprehension; goals; learning; training; NATO Special Operations Combat Medic; NSOCM; Swiss Armed Forces

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Could He Stay or Should He Go Now?

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Hampton K, Van Humbeeck L. 19(4). 118 - 118. (Journal Article)

Keywords: urinary bladder; pain; RUQ; scrotum

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"There I Was": A Cup of Improvisation

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Hubbard B, Freeman C. 19(4). 120 - 122. (Journal Article)

Keywords: improvisation; tourniquets

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A Case for Improvised Medical Training

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Hetzler MR. 19(4). 123 - 125. (Journal Article)

Abstract

The hyperresourced, uber-controlled, ultrareactive, constant environment that we have come to know in the past 20 years should not be mistaken as the norm in conflict. In truth, unrealistic expectations of both commanders and systems in resourcing is presently being reinforced almost daily. Only in the past few years of this decade have the majority of allied forces experienced challenge in resupply and support in contingency operations. When logistical lines are cut, limited, or untimely, we must know and exercise other means of providing the highest level of medical care possible-if not with indigenous ways and means, then by improvisation. History has proved that improvised medicine can be capable, professional, and ethically sound if practiced properly and to standards, the price being time, education, and investment in the requirement. Most often, these are already time-honored means of care.

Keywords: military medicine; environment; equipment design; unconventional medicine

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Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars

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Farr WD. 19(4). 127 - 127. (Book Review)

Abstract

Darden JT, Henshaw A, Szekely O. Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press; 2019. ISBN 978-1-62616-666-0. 112 pages.

CoTCCC Hail and Farewell

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Anonymous A. 19(4). 130 - 131. (Classical Conference)