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Adapting to Death: Clarifying the Roles of Special Operations Combat Medics in Prolonged Field Care

Jeschke EA 18(4). 153 - 156 (Journal Article)

I suggest that Special Operations Forces (SOF) medicine should explicitly acknowledge the Special Operations combat medic's role in attending death. This acknowledgment will allow researchers to evaluate and delimit the medic's needs in relationship to an expanded set of roles that move beyond life-saving care. This article comprises four sections. First, I provide background to my argument by exploring some assumptions of modern medicine and objections to exploring battlefield death care. Second, I describe how I see the medic's role expanding with the introduction of prolonged field care. Third, I address the implications of the medic's expanded role in relationship to role and function stress and strain. Fourth, I address the moral complexity related to withdrawing or withholding care. I conclude by briefly highlighting some of the implications for future research. In explicitly engaging death as a medical reality for which the medic ought to be prepared, SOF medicine could set the foundational development for seeing death as a valuable gift to be explored, not a failure to be avoided or burden to be overcome.

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Thrown for a Loop

Urbaniak MK, Hampton K 18(4). 148 (Journal Article)

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Effects of Oral Glucosamine Sulfate on Osteoarthritis-Related Pain and Joint-Space Changes: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Knapik JJ, Pope R, Hoedebecke SS, Schram B, Orr R, Lieberman HR 18(4). 139 - 147 (Journal Article)

Background: Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disorder involving deterioration of articular cartilage and underlying bone and is associated with symptoms of pain and disability. Glucosamine is a component of articular cartilage naturally synthesized in the body from glucose and incorporated into substances contained in the cartilage. It has been suggested that consumption of glucosamine may reduce the pain of OA and may have favorable effects on structural changes in the cartilage. This article presents a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of orally consumed glucosamine sulfate (GS) on OA-related pain and joint structural changes. Methods: PubMed and Ovid Embase were searched using specific search terms to find randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials on the effects of GS on pain and/or joint-space narrowing. The outcome measure was the standardized mean difference (SMD), which was the improvement in the placebo groups minus the improvement in the GS groups divided by the pooled standard deviation. Results: There were 17 studies meeting the review criteria for pain, and the summary SMD was -0.35, with a 95% confidence interval (95% CI) = -0.54 to -0.16 (negative SMD is in favor of GS). Of the 17 studies, 7 showed a statistically significant reduction in pain from GS use. Four studies met the review criteria for joint space narrowing with a summary SMD = -0.10 (95% CI = -0.23 to +0.04). Studies without involvement of the commercial glucosamine industry had a lower (but still significant) pain reduction efficacy (summary SMD = -0.19, 95% CI = -0.39 to -0.02) than those with industry involvement. Several smaller dosages throughout the day had larger pain reduction effects than a single daily large dose (1500 mg). Conclusion: These data indicate that GS may have a small to moderate effect in reducing OA-related pain but little effect on joint-space narrowing. Until there is more definitive evidence, healthcare providers should be cautious in recommending use of GS to their patients. Because GS dosages used in studies to date resulted in mild and transient adverse effects, and these were similar to that experienced by patients receiving placebos, larger GS doses possibly could be investigated in future studies.

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Tetanus

Burnett MW 18(4). 137 - 138 (Journal Article)

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What the SOF Community Needs to Know About Dietary Supplements

Deuster PA 18(4). 131 - 136 (Journal Article)

Dietary supplement (DS) use by military members and Special Operations Forces (SOF), in particular, is high. The "sports nutrition" market is expected to be one of the fastest growing segments because a "performance edge" is certainly desirable within the military. DS products are readily available in retail stores on military bases, over the Internet, and in niche stores near military bases. Thus, use of some DSs raises a number of unique concerns, particularly considering the potential for interactions among combinations of DS ingredients and concurrent medications taken under military operational conditions. All those who work with SOF should have a basic understanding of the DS world. This article briefly reviews selected DS regulations, identifies concerns and risks related to various DS products, and describes the purpose, functions, and resources of Operation Supplement Safety. Examples of regulatory concerns, adverse events, red flags, and tools are provided to help SOF communities sustain their health and performance.

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Clinical Update: Concepts of Prehospital Traumatic Hemorrhage Control in the Operational K9

Palmer LE 18(4). 123 - 130 (Journal Article)

Major trauma often involves varying degrees of hemorrhage. Left unattended, any amount of trauma-induced hemorrhage may rapidly become life threatening. Similar to humans, Operational canines (OpK9s) can suffer penetrating trauma and blunt trauma that lead to compressible and noncompressible hemorrhage. Preserving organ function and saving the life of a massively bleeding OpK9 require the implementation of immediate and effective hemostatic measures. Effective hemorrhage control interventions for the exsanguinating OpK9 are similar to those for humans: direct pressure, wound packing, hemostatic agents and devices, pressure bandage, and, possibly, tourniquet application. Although tourniquet application is a life-saving intervention in humans experiencing extremity hemorrhage, it is not considered a necessary, immediate-action life-saving intervention for canines with extremity injuries. This article provides a brief description of the basic methods for identifying life-threatening hemorrhage and achieving immediate hemostasis in the bleeding OpK9 during the prehospital period.

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Efficacy of the Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet-Torso Plate in a Lethal Model of Noncompressible Torso Hemorrhage

Bonanno AM, Hoops HE, Graham T, Davis BL, McCully BH, Wilson LN, Madtson BM, Ross JD 18(4). 106 - 110 (Journal Article)

Background: The Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet, when modified with an off-label, prototype, accessory pressure distribution plate (AAJT-TP), has the potential to control noncompressible torso hemorrhage in prolonged field care. Methods: Using a lethal, noncompressible torso hemorrhage model, 24 male Yorkshire swine (81kg-96kg) were randomly assigned into two groups (control or AAJT-TP). Anesthetized animals were instrumented and an 80% laparoscopic, left-side liver lobe transection was performed. At 10 minutes, the AAJT-TP was applied and inflated to an intraabdominal pressure of 40mmHg. At 20 minutes after application, the AAJT-TP was deflated, but the windlass was left tightened. Animals were observed for a prehospital time of 60 minutes. Animals then underwent damage control surgery at 180 minutes, followed by an intensive care unit-phase of care for an additional 240 minutes. Survival was the primary end point. Results: Compared with Hextend, survival was not significantly different in the AAJT-TP group (ρ = .564), nor was blood loss (3.3L ± 0.5L and 3.0L ± 0.5L, respectively; p = .285). There was also no difference in all physiologic parameters between groups at the end of the study or end of the prehospital phase. Three of 12 AAJT-TP animals had an inferior vena cava thrombus. Conclusion: The AAJT-TP did not provide any survival benefit compared with Hextend alone in this model of noncompressible torso hemorrhage.

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The Benefits of Reflexology for the Chronic Pain Patient in a Military Pain Clinic

Kern C, McCoart A, Beltranm T, Martoszek M 18(4). 103 - 105 (Journal Article)

Background: Chronic pain is a major cause of disability across the military, especially for the combat Soldier. More than twothirds of Americans with chronic pain are now using complementary medicine. Methods: Patients with chronic pain opting for reflexology as part of their treatment plan received bilateral therapy. Alternating pressure was applied to the individual patient's reflex points corresponding to their pain sites. Following a single treatment session, patients were asked to complete a short survey. Discussion: There is evidence that reflexology is therapeutic for many conditions, to include sleep and anxiety, both of which can be comorbidity in the patient with chronic pain. There is a lack of evidence on the use of reflexology with chronic pain patients receiving multidisciplinary pain care. Results: A total of 311 participants completed the survey. Posttreatment pain scored decreased by a median of 2 points (interquartile range [IQR] 1-3) on a 10-point pain scale. This represents a median 43% (IQR 25%-60%) reduction in pain for males and a 41% (IQR 30%-60%) reduction in pain for females. Conclusion: Currently research is limited on effects of reflexology in treating chronic pain, yet, like acupuncture, this is an inexpensive, reliable, teachable, and simple noninvasive treatment. Further studies are warranted.

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A Novel, Perfused-Cadaver Simulation Model for Tourniquet Training in Military Medics

Grabo DJ, Polk T, Strumwasser A, Inaba K, Foran C, Luther C, Minneti M, Kronstedt S, Wilson A, Demetriades D 18(4). 97 - 102 (Journal Article)

Background: Exsanguinating limb injury is a significant cause of preventable death on the battlefield and can be controlled with tourniquets. US Navy corpsmen rotating at the Navy Trauma Training Center receive instruction on tourniquets. We evaluated the effectiveness of traditional tourniquet instruction compared with a novel, perfused-cadaver, simulation model for tourniquet training. Methods: Corpsmen volunteering to participate were randomly assigned to one of two tourniquet training arms. Traditional training (TT) consisted of lectures, videos, and practice sessions. Perfused-cadaver training (PCT) included TT plus training using a regionally perfused cadaver. Corpsmen were evaluated on their ability to achieve hemorrhage control with tourniquet(s) using the perfused cadaver. Outcomes included (1) time to control hemorrhage, (2) correct placement of tourniquet(s), and (3) volume of simulated blood loss. Participants were asked about confidence in understanding indications and skills for tourniquets. Results: The 53 corpsmen enrolled in the study were randomly assigned as follows: 26 to the TT arm and 27 to the PCT arm. Corpsmen in the PCT group controlled bleeding with the first tourniquet more frequently (96% versus 83%; p < .03), were quicker to hemorrhage control (39 versus 45 seconds; p < .01), and lost less simulated blood (256mL versus 355mL; p < .01). There was a trend toward increased confidence in tourniquet application among all corpsmen. Conclusions: Using a perfused- cadaver training model, corpsmen placed tourniquets more rapidly and with less simulated-blood loss than their traditional training counterparts. They were more likely to control hemorrhage with first tourniquet placement and gain confidence in this procedure. Additional studies are indicated to identify components of effective simulation training for tourniquets.

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Effect of Spearmint Extract Containing Rosmarinic Acid on Physical and Executive Functioning After a Tactical Operation

Ostfeld I, Ben-Moshe Y, Hoffman MW, Shalev H, Hoffman JR 18(4). 92 - 96 (Journal Article)

We examined the effect of a proprietary spearmint extract containing rosmarinic acid (PSE) on physical, cognitive, and executive functioning of study participants after a high-risk tactical operation while sleep deprived for 24 hours. Ten Operators (mean ± standard deviation: age, 35.1 ± 5.2 years; height, 177.6 ± 5.3cm; weight, 81.3 ± 9.3kg) from an elite counterterrorism unit volunteered to participate in this randomized, double-blind, parallel-design study. Participants were randomly assigned into either the PSE or placebo (PL) group and ingested 900mg/day PSE or an equivalent amount of PL for 17 days. Physical, cognitive, and executive functioning was tested before PST supplementation (PRE) and within 1 hour of the operation's conclusion (POST). Magnitude-based inferences indicated that differences between PSE and PL in jump power, reactive agility, eye-hand coordination, and cognition were unclear. However, subjective feelings of energy, alertness, and focus were very likely, likely, and possibly better for PSE than PL, respectively. There was no difference (ρ = .64) between groups in identifying the correct target; however, all participants in the PSE group correctly identified the target, whereas 60% of participants in the PL group correctly identified the target at POST. Although the results of this study do not provide conclusive evidence regarding the efficacy of PSE, they do suggest additional research is warranted in a larger sample of participants.

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Shooter-Experienced Blast Overpressure in .50-Caliber Rifles

Lang M, Kamimori GH, Misistia A, LaValle CR, Ramos AN, Ghebremedhin MY, Egnoto MJ 18(4). 87 - 91 (Journal Article)

Background: Increasingly, military and law enforcement are using .50-caliber rifles for conflict resolution involving barricades, armor, vehicles, and situations that require increased kinetic energy. Consequences to the shooter resulting from the blast produced while firing these rifles remain unknown. We measured blast overpressure (OP) and impulse across various positions, environments, and weapon configurations to evaluate blast exposures to shooters. Methods: Two separate, multiday, .50-caliber rifle training courses were evaluated to understand the blast exposure profile received from various tactical training scenarios, such as different firing positions (e.g., standing, prone, seated, kneeling) and locations (e.g., inside and atop vehicles, inside buildings, on hard/soft surfaces) across a variety of .50-caliber rifles with various barrel lengths, muzzle devices, and ammunition. Blackbox Biometrics, Generation 6, gauges were placed on operators to measure incident blast exposure. A total of 444 rounds fired from various .50-caliber rifles were evaluated to determine what OP was received by 32 different shooters. Results: Our findings indicate OPs >4 psi are common and that muzzle devices are critical to blast exposure. Shooting positions closer to the ground experienced higher OP and impulse than did other positions. Suppressors mitigated blast effects well. Conclusion: When resources and operational parameters allow, suppressors are recommended, as are positions that move the shooter farther from reflective surfaces (standing preferred) to effectively reduce blast exposure. These shooter positions may require the use of supplemental rifle rests/tripods to provide sufficiently stable firing platforms from the standing position.

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Willingness of Emergency Medical Services Professionals to Respond to an Active Shooter Incident

Chovaz M, Patel RV, March JA, Taylor SE, Brewer KL 18(4). 82 - 86 (Journal Article)

Background: Historically, staging of civilian emergency medical services (EMS) during an active shooter incident was in the cold zone while these professionals awaited the scene to be completely secured by multiple waves of law enforcement. This delay in EMS response has led to the development of a more effective method: the Rescue Task Force (RTF). The RTF concept has the second wave of law enforcement escorting civilian EMS into the warm zone, thus decreasing EMS response time. To our knowledge, there are no data regarding the willingness of EMS professionals to enter a warm zone as part of an RTF. In this study, we assessed the willingness of EMS providers to respond to an active shooter incident as part of an RTF. Methods: A survey was distributed at an annual, educational EMS conference in North Carolina. The surveys were distributed on the first day of the conference at the beginning of a general session that focused on EMS stress and wellness. Total attendance was measured using identification badges and scanners on exiting the session. Data were assessed using χ2 analysis, as were associations between demographics of interest and willingness to respond under certain conditions. A p value < .01 indicated statistical significance. Results: The overall response rate was 76% (n = 391 of 515 session attendees). Most surveys were completed by paramedics (74%; n = 288 of 391). Most EMS professionals (75%; n = 293 of 391) stated they would respond to the given active shooter scenario as part of an RTF (escorted by the second wave of law enforcement) if they were given only ballistic gear. However, most EMS professionals (61%; n = 239 of 391) stated they would not respond if they were provided no ballistic gear and no firearm. Those with tactical or military training were more willing to respond with no ballistic gear and no firearm (49.6%; n = 68 of 137) versus those without such training (31%; n = 79 of 250; odds ratio, 2.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-3.3; p < .001). Conclusion: EMS professionals are willing to put themselves in harm's way by entering a warm zone if they are simply provided the proper training and ballistic equipment.

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Evaluation of a Concept for a Military Expedition Performance Environment

Berendsen RR, Vieyra B, Rietjens GJ, Beckers RT, van Hulst RA, Boumeester CE, Hoencamp R 18(4). 75 - 81 (Journal Article)

To evaluate four factors essential in the preparation of high-altitude expeditions and of the performance during these expeditions, the Manaslu 2016 Medical Team, as part of the medical team of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC), developed the Military Expedition Performance Environment (MEPE) concept. The scope of this concept is intended to cover (1) selection of a team, (2) medical planning and support, (3) competencies in the field (team work and human factors), and (4) and chain of command.

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Feasibility Study Vascular Access and REBOA Placement: From Zero to Hero

Borger van der Burg BL, Maayen RC, van Dongen TT, Gerben C, Eric C, DuBose JJ, Horer TM, Bowyer MW, Hoencamp R 18(4). 70 - 74 (Journal Article)

Background: Vascular access is a necessary prerequisite for REBOA placement in patients with severe hemorrhagic shock. Methods: During an EVTM workshop, 10 Special Forces (SOF) medics, five combat nurses, four military nonsurgeon physicians, and four military surgeons participated in our training program. The military surgeons functioned as the control group. A formalized curriculum was constructed including basic anatomy and training in access materials for resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) placement. Key skills were (1) preparation of endovascular toolkit, (2) achieving vascular access in the model, and (3) bleeding control with REBOA. Results: The baseline knowledge of anatomy for SOF medics was significantly less than that for nurses and physicians. Medics had a median time of 3:59 minutes to sheath insertion; nurses, 2:47; physicians, 2:34; and surgeons, 1:39. Military surgeons were significantly faster than medics and military nurses (ρ = .037 resp. 0.034). Medics had a median total time from start to REBOA inflation of 5:05 minutes; nurses, 4:06; military physicians, 3:36; and surgeons, 2:36. Conclusion: This study showed that a comprehensive theoretical and practical training program using a task training model can be used for percutaneous femoral access and REBOA placement training of military medical personnel without prior ultrasound or endovascular experience. Higher levels of training reduce procedure times.

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Differences in Stress Shoot Performance Among Special Forces Operators Who Participate in a Human Performance Program Versus Those Who Do Not

Canada DM, Dawes JJ, Lindsay KG, Elder C, Goldberg P, Bartley N, Werth K, Bricker D, Fischer T 18(4). 64 - 68 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of this investigation was to determine if Army Special Operation Forces (ARSOF) Operators who participate in the Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning program perform significantly better on a simulated stress shoot scenario than ARSOF Operators who do not participate in the program. Methods: Deidentified archival data from 64 male ARSOF Operators (mean ± standard deviation: age, 31.1 ± 4.96 years; SOF experience, 3.44 ± 4.10 years) who participated in the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat stress shoot were assessed to determine if differences in performance existed between program users (n = 25) and nonusers (n = 39). A series of bootstrapped analyses of variance in conjunction with effect-size calculations was conducted to determine if significant mean score differences existed between users and nonusers on raw and total course completion times, high-value target acquisition (positive identification time), and penalties accrued. Results: Small to medium effect sizes were observed between users and nonusers in raw time, penalties, and total time. Although there were no significant differences between users and nonusers, there was less variation in raw time and total time in users compared with nonusers. Conclusion: Our findings becomes a question of practical versus statistical significance, because less performance variability while under physical and psychological duress could be life saving for ARSOF Operators.

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Use Your Noodle to Simulate Tourniquet Use on a Limb With and Without Bone

Kragh JF, Zhao NO, Aden JK, Dubick MA 18(4). 57 - 63 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of this study was to simulate first aid by mechanical use of a limb tourniquet on a thigh with and without bone to better understand best caregiving practices. Methods: Two investigators studied simulated first aid on a new pool "noodle," a plastic cylinder with a central air tunnel into which we inserted a wood dowel to simulate bone. Data were gathered by group (study and control, n = 12 each). The control group comprised data collected from simulated tourniquet use on the model with bone present. The study group comprised data from simulated tourniquet use on the model without bone. Results: Comparing compression with and without bone, the mean volumes of compressed soft tissues alone were 303mL and 306mL, respectively. When bone was present, the volume of soft tissues was squeezed more, yielding a smaller size by 3mL (1%). The bone had a volume of 41mL and pressed statically outward with an equal force oppositely directed to the inward compression of the overlying soft tissues. With bone removed and compression applied, the mean residual void was 16mL, because 25mL (i.e., 41mL minus 16mL) of soft tissues had collapsed inward. The volume of the limb under the tourniquet with and without bone was 344mL and 322mL, respectively. The collapse volume, 25mL, was 3mL more than the difference of the mean volume of the limb under the tourniquet. More limb squeeze (22mL) looked like better compression, but it was actually worse-an illusion created by collapse of the hidden void. Conclusion: In simulated first aid, mechanical modeling demonstrated how tourniquet compression applied to a limb squeezed the soft tissues better when underlying bone was present. Bone loss altered the compression profile and may complicate control of bleeding in care. This knowledge, its depiction, and its demonstration may inform first-aid instructors.

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Advanced Resuscitative Care in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines Change 18-01:14 October 2018

Butler FK, Holcomb JB, Shackelford S, Barbabella S, Bailey JA, Baker JB, Cap AP, Conklin CC, Cunningham CW, Davis M, DeLellis SM, Dorlac WC, DuBose JJ, Eastridge B, Fisher AD, Glasser JJ, Gurney J, Jenkins DA, Johannigman J, King DR, Kotwal RS, Littlejohn LF, Mabry RL, Martin MJ, Miles EA, Montgomery HR, Northern DM, O'Connor KC, Rasmussen TE, Riesberg JC, Spinella PC, Stockinger Z, Strandenes G, Via DK, Weber MA 18(4). 37 - 55 (Journal Article)

TCCC has previously recommended interventions that can effectively prevent 4 of the top 5 causes of prehospital preventable death in combat casualties-extremity hemorrhage, junctional hemorrhage, airway obstruction, and tension pneumothorax- and deaths from these causes have been markedly reduced in US combat casualties. Noncompressible torso hemorrhage (NCTH) is the last remaining major cause of preventable death on the battlefield and often causes death within 30 minutes of wounding. Increased use of whole blood, including the capability for massive transfusion, if indicated, has the potential to increase survival in casualties with either thoracic and/or abdominopelvic hemorrhage. Additionally, Zone 1 Resuscitative Endovascular Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta (REBOA) can provide temporary control of bleeding in the abdomen and pelvis and improve hemodynamics in casualties who may be approaching traumatic cardiac arrest as a result of hemorrhagic shock. Together, these two interventions are designated Advanced Resuscitative Care (ARC) and may enable casualties with severe NCTH to survive long enough to reach the care of a surgeon. Although Special Operations units are now using whole blood far-forward, this capability is not routinely present in other US combat units at this point in time. REBOA is not envisioned as care that could be accomplished by a unit medic working out of his or her aid bag. This intervention should be undertaken only by designated teams of advanced combat medical personnel with special training and equipment.

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Use of Drone Technology for Delivery of Medical Supplies During Prolonged Field Care

Mesar T, Lessig A, King DR 18(4). 34 - 35 (Journal Article)

Background: Care of trauma casualties in an austere environment presents many challenges, particularly when evacuation is not immediately available. Man-packable medical supplies may be consumed by a single casualty, and resupply may not be possible before evacuation, particularly during prolonged field care scenarios. We hypothesized that unmanned aerial drones could successfully deliver life-sustaining medical supplies to a remote, denied environment where vehicle or foot traffic is impossible or impractical. Methods: Using an unmanned, rotary- wing drone, we simulated delivery of a customizable, 4.5kg load of medical equipment, including tourniquets, dressings, analgesics, and blood products. A simulated casualty was positioned in a remote area. The flight was preprogrammed on the basis of grid coordinates and flew on autopilot beyond visual range; data (altitude, flight time, route) were recorded live by high-altitude Shadow drone. Delivery time was compared to the known US military standards for traversing uneven topography by foot or wheeled vehicle. Results: Four flights were performed. Data are given as mean (± standard deviation). Time from launch to delivery was 20.77 ± 0.05 minutes (cruise speed, 34.03 ± 0.15 km/h; mean range, 12.27 ± 0.07 km). Medical supplies were delivered successfully within 1m of the target. The drone successfully returned to the starting point every flight. Resupply by foot would take 5.1 hours with an average speed of 2.4km/h and 61.35 minutes, with an average speed of 12 km/h for a wheeled vehicle, if a rudimentary road existed. Conclusion: Use of unmanned drones is feasible for delivery of life-saving medical supplies in austere environments. Drones repeatedly and accurately delivered medical supplies faster than other methods without additional risk to personnel or manned airframe. This technology may have benefit for austere care of military and civilian casualties.

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Guerrilla Hospital Design and Lessons Learned

Farr WD 18(4). 30 - 33 (Journal Article)

The author discusses the lessons that can be learned from older sources when engaging in guerilla warfare medicine and surgery.

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