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Conceptualized Use of Self-Expanding Foam to Rescue Special Operators From Abdominal Exsanguination: Percutaneous Damage Control for the Forward Deployed

Rago AP, Sharma U, Sims K, King DR 15(3). 39 - 45 (Journal Article)

Background: Noncompressible hemorrhage is the leading cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield. In Special Operations Forces (SOF), 50% of potentially survivable deaths have been related to noncompressible hemorrhage. Currently, there are no widely available presurgical interventions that can slow abdominal bleeding. Consequently, many of the preventable deaths occur en route to definitive care as a failure to rescue from exsanguination. A self-expanding polyurethane foam has been developed as a percutaneous damage control intervention to rescue casualties who would otherwise die of noncompressible hemorrhage, and allow them to survive long enough to reach surgical intervention. The purpose of this paper is to summarize the existing preclinical data, describe the role of SOF personnel in foam delivery-system development, and to integrate these together to conceptualize how foam could be incorporated into SOF medical care. Methods: All existing publications on self-expanding foam are reviewed. Additionally, eight SOF medical providers with combat experience provided end-user input to delivery-device design through an interactive human-factors testing process. Results: Ten preclinical publications described efficacy, safety, dose translation, and risk-benefit analysis of exsanguination rescue with percutaneous-foam damage control. SOF medical providers guided weight, cubic, operational requirements, and limits for the foam delivery device. Conclusion: Presurgical exsanguination rescue with percutaneous foam damage control is safe and effective with a favorable risk-benefit profile in preclinical studies. Battlefield, presurgical use by SOF medical providers is conceptually possible. Adoption of the technology on the battlefield should proceed with SOF medical provider input.

Emergency Cricothyroidotomy in Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Mabry RL, Frankfurt A, Kharod C, Butler FK 15(3). 11 - 19 (Journal Article)

Junctional Tourniquet Training Experience

Kragh JF, Geracci JJ, Parsons DL, Robinson JB, Biever KA, Rein EB, Glassberg E, Strandenes G, Chen J, Benov A, Marcozzi D, Shackelford S, Cox KM, Mann-Salinas EA 15(3). 20 - 30 (Journal Article)

Since 2009, out-of-hospital care of junctional hemorrhage bleeding from the trunk-appendage junctions has changed, in part, due to the newly available junctional tourniquets (JTs) that have been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration. Given four new models of JT available in 2014, several military services have begun to acquire, train, or even use such JTs in care. The ability of users to be trained in JT use has been observed by multiple instructors. The experience of such instructors has been broad as a group, but their experience as individuals has been neither long nor deep. A gathering into one source of the collective experience of trainers of JT users could permit a collation of useful information to include lessons learned, tips in skill performance, identification of pitfalls of use to avoid, and strategies to optimize user learning. The purpose of the present review is to record the experiences of several medical personnel in their JT training of users to provide a guide for future trainers.

Frostbite: A Novel Presentation of Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency?

Bowles JM, Joas C, Head S 15(3). 1 - 3 (Case Reports)

Acute hemolytic anemia (AHA) due to glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency has rarely been recognized as a contributor to the development of frostbite. We discuss a case of frostbite in a 32-year-old male Marine with G6PD deficiency during military training on Mount Mckinley in Alaska, which eventually led to a permanent disability. In this report, the pathophysiology of G6PD deficiency, the effects of hemolytic anemia, and factors that contribute to frostbite will be discussed, as well as the clinical findings, treatment course, and the outcome of this case. The patient was evacuated and admitted to Alaska Regional Hospital. He was treated for fourth-degree frostbite, ultimately resulting in the complete or partial amputation of all toes. Although it cannot be proved that AHA occurred in this patient, this case potentially adds frostbite to the list of rare but possible clinical presentations of G6PD deficiency.

Evaluation for Testosterone Deficiency

Grumbo R, Haight D 15(3). 4 - 9 (Journal Article)

There has been a recent increase in the number of Operators presenting to clinics for evaluation of possible low testosterone. In response, USASOC recently released an Androgen Deficiency Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) to help guide providers through the initial evaluation and treatment of patients. The diagnosis of hypogonadism is based on consistent signs and symptoms of androgen deficiency and unequivocally low serum testosterone (below 300ng/dL). Testosterone levels can change for a variety of reasons and an adequate evaluation requires multiple laboratory tests over a period of time. If a diagnosis of hypogonadism is confirmed, differentiating between primary and secondary hypogonadism can help guide further care. Testosterone replacement therapy options are available, but careful monitoring for side-effects is required. Controversy still exists surrounding the safety of testosterone replacement therapy, and referral to endocrinology should strongly be considered before initiating treatment.

POW and Detainee Operations: Lessons Unlearned

Caci JB 15(2). 139 - 143 (Journal Article)

Throughout the history of modern warfare, tales of atrocities have repeatedly surfaced that depict active and passive aggression toward prisoners of war (POWs). Yet, with each conflict, new tales are born and an undeniable reality of warfare inflicts fresh scars for aggressors to bear. It is understandable, based on human nature and the goals of war, that a government (or its representatives) will feel malice toward enemy prisoners captured during a conflict. It is unquestionably a challenge to overcome that human nature, despite the statutes that outline lawful treatment of POWs. While most aspects of warfare have been revolutionized throughout history, the means by which a military deals with its POWs remains somewhat mired in the reticence of leaders to acknowledge that it will factor into every conflict-that it will, in fact, become a source of controversy as long as it is handled as an afterthought. As shown in accounts dating back to the Revolutionary War, the law can only influence human nature to a point, especially when resources are limited, ignorance is a reality, and no one is watching.

Fuzileiros Portugueses (Portuguese Marines)

Ferreira B 15(2). 144 - 146 (Journal Article)


Yetto T 15(2). 132 - 135 (Journal Article)

An active duty Sailor has a long history of skin lesions on his scalp, chest, back, and legs. He was evaluated and treated previously but could not recall the specific details. He is diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, an immune-mediated chronic disease. This article reviews the etiology, morphology, diagnosis, and treatment of psoriasis.

Preventive Medicine and Its Role in the Special Operation Forces Medical Team

Agudelo JJ 15(2). 136 - 138 (Journal Article)

Throughout history, Soldiers in wartime have been especially vulnerable to infectious diseases, which have devastated and decimated entire armies, causing suspension and, in some cases, complete cancellation of military operations. Dr William Foege, a renowned Harvard epidemiologist, and his colleagues claim that throughout history, infectious diseases have killed more Soldiers than have weapons. Reality shows that it does not matter if your Soldiers had the best training available with the best equipment and top of the world intelligence: if your personnel get sick, they become more of a liability than an asset for a combat operation. This article presents some of the key findings that continue to affect our Special Operations Forces (SOF) and how the use of specifically designed new products can help in controlling short- and long-term consequences of infectious diseases.

The Importance of Physical Fitness for Injury Prevention: Part 2

Knapik JJ 15(2). 112 - 115 (Journal Article)

This report examines associations between injuries and flexibility, stretching, warm-up, and body composition. Military studies show that either too much or too little flexibility increases injury risk. Static stretching prior to exercise does not appear to reduce the overall injury incidence, although further research is needed on some types of injuries. Static stretching also appears to reduce strength and power (explosive strength). Warm-up (low intensity activity prior to exercise or sports) appears to reduce injury risk. Body mass index (BMI; weight in kg/ height in m²) is a surrogate measure of body fat because it is highly related to laboratory measures of body fat. However, Soldiers can also have a high BMI because of higher muscle mass. If high BMI reflects a larger percentage of body fat relative to height, injury risk might be increased because the additional fat would increase the intensity of physical activity, leading to more rapid fatigue and repetitive stress on the musculoskeletal system. Low BMI could reflect a paucity of fat or muscle/ bone, or both. Low BMI may make Soldiers more susceptible to injury if they lack the muscle mass or strength in the supportive structures (ligaments, bones) required to perform certain physical tasks, and if they overexert or overuse the available muscle mass or supportive structures. Studies in basic combat training show that both high and low BMI increases injury risk. However, studies among active duty Soldiers only show that injury risk increases as BMI increases, possibly because very few active duty Soldiers have very low BMI (i.e., less than 18 kg/m²).

A Descriptive Analysis of US Prehospital Care Response to Law Enforcement Tactical Incidents

Aberle SJ, Lohse CM, Sztajnkrycer MD 15(2). 117 - 122 (Journal Article)

Background: Law enforcement tactical incidents involve high-risk operations that exceed the capabilities of regular, uniformed police. Despite the existence of tactical teams for 50 years, little is known about the frequency or nature of emergency medical services (EMS) response to tactical events in the United States. The purpose of this study was to perform a descriptive analysis of tactical events reported to a national EMS database. Methods: Descriptive analysis of the 2012 National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) Public Release research data set, containing EMS emergency response data from 41 states. Results: A total of 17,479,328 EMS events were reported, of which 3,953 events were coded as "Activation-Tactical or SWAT Specialty Service/Response Team." The most common level of prehospital care present on scene was basic life support (55.2%). The majority (72.3%) of tactical incident activations involved a single patient; mass casualty incidents occurred in 0.5% of events. The most common EMS response locations were homes (48.4%), streets or highways (37.0%), and public buildings (6.3%). The mean age of treated patients was 44.1 years ± 22.0 years; 3.5% of tactical incident activation patients were aged 8 years or less. Injuries were coded as firearm assault in 14.8% and as chemical exposure in 8.9% of events. Cardiac arrest occurred in 5.1% of patients, with the majority (92.2%) occurring prior to EMS arrival. The primary symptoms reported by EMS personnel were pain (37.4%), change in responsiveness (13.1%), and bleeding (8.1%). Advanced airway procedures occurred in 30 patients. No patients were documented as receiving tourniquets or needle thoracostomy. Conclusion: Approximately 11 EMS responses in support of law enforcement tactical operations occur daily in the United States. The majority occur in homes and involve a single patient. Advanced airway procedures are required in a minority of patients. Cardiac arrest is rare and occurs prior to EMS response in the majority of cases. Better understanding of the nature and location of EMS responses to tactical incidents is required to develop consistent EMS policies in support of law enforcement tactical operations.

A Case Study of MEDCANGRO Relative to RAND Conceptual Framework*

Scott A, Hogan R 15(2). 123 - 131 (Journal Article)

The 2010 Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 6000.16, Military Health Support for Stability Operations, established medical stability operations as a core military mission. National military leaders appreciated that to better manage risks for US military personnel operating in far forward locations, reduce cost and footprint requirements for operations, and aid partner nations with providing service to relevant populations in underserviced/undergoverned the US military would need to be employed strategically in efforts to build partner nation medical capacity. Medical Stability Operations has evolved into Global Health Engagement in the lexicon of planners but the goal is still the same. This article used a technical report authored by the RAND Corporation as the basis of a case study of a Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) Mission to the country of Niger to build a casualty evacuation capability. The case study evaluates the utility of a hypothetical framework developed by the RAND researchers relative to the actual events and outcomes of an actual mission. The principal finding is that the RAND technical report is of value to planners, Operators, and trainers as a systematic approach to successful building partner capacity in health (BPC-H) missions. The article also offers several examples of metrics that aid leadership in making better decisions as to when corrective actions might be required.

Monitoring Training for Human Performance Optimization

Austin KG, Deuster PA 15(2). 102 - 108 (Journal Article)

Physical fitness can significantly impact the mission success of Special Operations Forces (SOF). Much like athletes, Operators have multiple training components including technical, tactical, physical and mental conditioning, which must simultaneously be developed for mission success. Balancing multiple physical stressors to ensure positive results from training can be achieved through periodization-the intentional planning for success. Monitoring the training load can assist SOF in managing training stress and designing periodization that minimizes fatigue. The present article provides an overview of modern technology developed to quantify the stress of training. The training load maintained by SOF consists of external loads created through physical work and internal units of load determined by the rate of perceived effort during training that must be integrated in a manner that minimizes the accumulation of fatigue. Methods for determining training load are discussed in this article and examples are provided for determining training load, developing conditioning sessions and utilizing training load to maintain physical fitness, and improve return from injury.

Q Fever

Burnett MW 15(2). 109 - 111 (Journal Article)

Q fever is a zoonotic disease found throughout the world. It is caused by the intracellular gram-negative bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Infection by C. burnetii occurs primarily by inhalation of the aerosolized bacteria from birthing animals or contaminated dust. The bacterium is very resistant to drying and heat, and is considered highly endemic in the Middle East, where it is likely underdiagnosed. Special Operations Forces medical providers should be aware of this disease, which must be in the differential diagnosis of a patient who has a history of fever, elevated liver enzymes, pneumonia in its acute form, and endocarditis, especially in those with existing valvular heart disease in its chronic form.

Interobserver Variability in Injury Severity Scoring After Combat Trauma: Different Perspectives, Different Values?

Smith IM, Naumann DN, Guyver P, Bishop J, Davies S, Lundy JB, Bowley DM 15(2). 86 - 93 (Journal Article)

Background: Anatomic measures of injury burden provide key information for studies of prehospital and in-hospital trauma care. The military version of the Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS(M)] is used to score injuries in deployed military hospitals. Estimates of total trauma burden are derived from this. These scores are used for categorization of patients, assessment of care quality, and research studies. Scoring is normally performed retrospectively from chart review. We compared data recorded in the UK Joint Theatre Trauma Registry (JTTR) and scores calculated independently at the time of surgery by the operating surgeons to assess the concordance between surgeons and trauma nurse coordinators in assigning injury severity scores. Methods: Trauma casualties treated at a deployed Role 3 hospital were assigned AIS(M) scores by surgeons between 24 September 2012 and 16 October 2012. JTTR records from the same period were retrieved. The AIS(M), Injury Severity Score (ISS), and New Injury Severity Score (NISS) were compared between datasets. Results: Among 32 matched casualties, 214 injuries were recorded in the JTTR, whereas surgeons noted 212. Percentage agreement for number of injuries was 19%. Surgeons scored 75 injuries as "serious" or greater compared with 68 in the JTTR. Percentage agreement for the maximum AIS(M), ISS, and NISS assigned to cases was 66%, 34%, and 28%, respectively, although the distributions of scores were not statistically different (median ISS: surgeons: 20 [interquartile range (IQR), 9-28] versus JTTR: 17.5 [IQR, 9-31.5], ρ = .7; median NISS: surgeons: 27 [IQR, 12-42] versus JTTR: 25.5 [IQR, 11.5-41], ρ = .7). Conclusion: There are discrepancies in the recording of AIS(M) between surgeons directly involved in the care of trauma casualties and trauma nurse coordinators working by retrospective chart review. Increased accuracy might be achieved by actively collaborating in this process.

"It's What Color?"

Banting J, Meriano T 15(2). 97 - 101 (Journal Article)

The series objective is to review various clinical conditions/ presentations, including the latest evidence on management, and to dispel common myths. In the process, core knowledge and management principles are enhanced. A clinical case will be presented. Cases will be drawn from real life but phrased in a context that is applicable to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) or tactical emergency medical support (TEMS) environment. Details will be presented in such a way that the reader can follow along and identify how they would manage the case clinically depending on their experience and environment situation. Commentary will be provided by currently serving military medical technicians. The medics and author will draw on their SOF experience to communicate relevant clinical concepts pertinent to different operational environments including SOF and TEMS. Commentary and input from active special operations medical technicians will be part of the feature.

Emergency Department Patients Support the Use of Combat Medics in Their Clinical Care

Schauer SG, Mabry RL, Varney SM, Howard JT 15(2). 74 - 78 (Journal Article)

Background: As US military combat operations draw down in Afghanistan, the military health system will shift focus to garrison- and hospital-based care. Maintaining combat medical skills while performing routine healthcare in military hospitals and clinics is a critical challenge for Combat medics. Current regulations allow for a wide latitude of Combat medic functions. The Surgeon General considers combat casualty care a top priority. Combat medics are expected to provide sophisticated care under the extreme circumstances of a hostile battlefield. Yet, in the relatively safe and highly supervised setting of contiguous US-based military hospitals, medics are rarely allowed to perform the procedures or administer medications they are expected to use in combat. This study sought to determine patients' opinions on the use of combat medics in their healthcare. Methods: Patients in hospital emergency department (EDs) were offered anonymous surveys. Examples of Combat medic skills were provided. Participants expressed agreement using the Likert scale (LS), with scores ranging from "strongly agree" (LS score, 1) to "strongly disagree" (LS score, 5). The study took place in the ED at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Surveys were offered to adult patients when they checked into the ED or to adults with other patients. Results: A total of 280 surveys were completed and available for analysis. Subjects agreed that Combat medic skills are important for deployment (LS score, 1.4). Subjects agreed that Combat medics should be allowed to perform procedures (LS score, 1.6) and administer medications (LS score, 1.6). Subjects would allow Combat medics to perform procedures (LS score, 1.7) and administer medications (LS score, 1.7) to them or their families. Subjects agreed that Combat medic activities should be a core mission for military treatment facilities (MTFs) (LS score, 1.6). Conclusion: Patients support the use of Combat medics during clinical care. Patients agree that Combat medic use should be a core mission for MTFs. Further research is needed to optimize Combat medic integration into patient healthcare.

Clinical Guidelines for Stellate Ganglion Block to Treat Anxiety Associated With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Mulvaney SW, Lynch JH, Kotwal RS 15(2). 79 - 85 (Journal Article)

Multiple case series published in the peer-reviewed medical literature have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of right-sided stellate ganglion block (SGB) for the treatment of anxiety symptoms associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As this is a new indication for a well-established procedure, there is relatively little information available to assist clinicians in determining the utility of SGB for their patients. Presented are clinical guidelines to assist the provider with patient selection, patient education, and follow-up. Also described is a technique to perform SGB under ultrasoundguidance. Although additional rigorous clinical research is needed to further investigate SGB for the treatment of anxiety symptoms associated with PTSD, these guidelines can also assist clinical investigators in their participant selection, design, and conduct of future research as it pertains to this important topic.

Injuries, Medical Conditions, and Changes in Blood Levels in German Special Operations Forces Selection

Lechner R, Tausch B, Unkelbach U, Tannheimer M, Neitzel C 15(2). 64 - 70 (Journal Article)

Background: Medical conditions often develop during military training. The aim of this study was to compile medical conditions and injuries sustained during a 5-day military exercise, compare them with incidences at similar civilian events, and subsequently identify differences between those who finished the exercise (Finishers) and those who did not (Nonfinishers) to identify preventable causes for not finishing and to reduce unnecessary health risks. Methods: Fifty-one soldiers had their blood parameters (creatine kinase [CK], aspartate transaminase [AST], alanine transaminase [ALT], gamma-glutamyl transferase [GGT], C-reactive protein [CRP], leukocytes, sodium), weight loss, and body temperature determined after the exercise. Additionally, the injuries and conditions that led the Nonfinishers to drop out were recorded. Results: The main reasons why Nonfinishers did not complete the exercise were physical exhaustion and minor injuries. After exercise, the Finishers showed only slightly increased incidence of hyponatremia, higher levels of CK, and significantly higher levels of AST, ALT, and CRP, and body weight loss. The Nonfinishers' results were significant for an elevated leukocyte count and lower mean temperatures. Conclusion: The specifics of military training did not influence the kind or the number of exertion-related medical conditions compared to similar civilian events. Both Finishers and Nonfinishers are at risk of developing exertion-related medical conditions such as rhabdomyolysis and hyponatremia. However, plain water did not increase the risk of exertional hyponatremia. Leukocytosis found in the Nonfinisher group could have been due to acute excessive exertion and, therefore, may be an indicator of general systemic fatigue. This could be used to differ between physical and psychological reasons for not finishing.

Rationale for Use of Intravenous Acetaminophen in Special Operations Medicine

Vokoun ES 15(2). 71 - 73 (Journal Article)

Use of intravenous acetaminophen has increased recently as an opioid-sparing strategy for patients undergoing major surgery. Its characteristics and efficacy suggest that it would a useful adjunct in combat trauma medicine. This article reviews those characteristics, which include rapid onset, high peak plasma concentration, and favorable side-effect profile. Also discussed is the hepatotoxicity risk of acetaminophen in a combat trauma patient. It concludes that intravenous acetaminophen should be considered as an addition to the US Special Operations Command Tactical Trauma Protocols and supplied to medics for use in field care.

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