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Medicine on the Edge of Darkness

Christensen PA 18(1). 150 - 154 (Journal Article)

Austere care of the wounded is challenging for all Western medical professionals-nurse, medic, or physician. There can be no doubt that working for the first time, either for a nongovernment organization or in the Special Forces, you will be taking care of wounded patients outside your training and experience. You must have the ability to adapt to and overcome lack of resources and equipment, and accept standards of treatment often very different and lower than that common in western hospitals. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was asked to provide relief for the Pakistan Red Crescent in 1982 and set up the ICRC Hospital for Afghan War Wounded in Peshawar on the border to Afghanistan. This article relates how a western-trained young anesthetist on a ICRC surgical team experienced this, at the time, austere environment.

I Can't Breathe-A SIPe of Water

Urbaniak MK, Hampton K 18(1). 145 (Journal Article)

Patella Fracture in US Servicemember in an Austere Location

Schermerhorn SM, Auchincloss PJ, Kraft K, Nelson KJ, Pamplin JC 18(1). 142 - 144 (Journal Article)

Objective: Review the management of a patient with acute patella fracture supported by telemedical consultation. Clinical Context: Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) supporting US Army Africa/Southern European Task Force (USARAF/ SETAF) in Africa Command area of responsibility. Care was provided by a Role I facility on the compound. Organic Expertise: Three 68W combat medics; one Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM). Closest Medical Support: Organic battalion physician assistant (PA) located in the United States; USARAF PA located in a European country; French Role II located in nearby West African country; telemedical consults via e-mail, phone, or videoteleconsultation. Earliest Evacuation: Estimated at 12 to 24 hours with appropriate clearances.

Prehospital Medicine and the Future Will ECMO Ever Play a Role?

Macku D, Hedvicak P, Quinn J, Bencko V 18(1). 133 - 138 (Journal Article)

Due to the hybrid warfare currently experienced by multiple NATO coalition and NATO partner nations, the tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) paradigm is greatly challenged. One of the major challenges to TCCC is the ad hoc extension phase in resource-poor environments, referred to as prolonged field care (PFC) and forward resuscitative care (FRC). The nuanced clinical skills with limited resources required by warfighters and auxiliary health care professionals to mitigate death on the battlefield and prevent morbidity and mortality in the PFC phase represent a balance that is still under review. The aim of our article is to describe the connection between extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or the extracorporeal life support (ECLS) treatment and its possible improvement in prehospital trauma care, at a Role 1 or 2 facility and, more provocatively, in the PFC phase of care in the future through innovative technology and how it connects with FRC. We report and describe here the primary components of ECMO/ECLS and present the main concept of a human extracorporeal circulation cocoon as a transitional living form for the cardiopulmonary stabilization of wounded combatants on the battlefield and their transportation to higher echelons of care and treatment facilities (to include damage control resuscitation [DCR] and damage control surgery [DCS]). As clinical governance, these matters would fall within the remit of the Committee on Surgical Combat Casualty Care (CoSCCC) and the Committee on Enroute Combat Casualty Care (CoERCCC), and it is within this framework that we propose this concept piece of ECMO in the prehospital space. We caution that this report is a proposed innovation to TCCC but also serves to push the envelope of the PFC and FRC paradigm. What we propose will not change the practice this year, but as ECMO technology progresses, it may change our practice within the next decade. We conclude with proposed novel future research to save life on the battlefield with ECMO as a major challenge and one worth the focus of further research. Medicine is controversial and constantly changing; for those who work in prehospital and battlefield medicine, change is the only constant on which we rely, and without provocative discussion that makes our systems and practice more robust, we will fail.

Integrating Chemical Biological, Radiologic, and Nuclear (CBRN) Protocols Into TCCC Introduction of a Conceptual Model - TCCC + CBRN = (MARCHE)2

DeFeo DR, Givens ML 18(1). 118 - 123 (Journal Article)

The authors would like to introduce TCCC [Tactical Combat Casualty Care] + CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] = (MARCHE)2 as a conceptual model to frame the response to CBRN events. This model is not intended to replace existing and well-established literature on CBRNE events but rather to serve as a response tool that is an adjunct to agent specific resources.

Epidemiological Evidence and Possible Mechanisms for the Association Between Cigarette Smoking and Injuries (Part 1)

Knapik JJ, Bedno SA 18(1). 108 - 112 (Journal Article)

Surveys indicated that 24% of military personnel are current cigarette smokers. Smoking is well known to increase the risk of cancers, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, reproductive problems, and other medical maladies, but one of the little known effects of smoking is that on injuries. There is considerable evidence from a variety of sources that (1) smoking increases overall injury risk, (2) the greater the amount of smoking, the higher is the injury risk, and (3) smoking is an independent injury risk factor. Smoking not only affects the overall injury risk but also impairs healing processes following fractures (e.g., longer healing times, more nonunions, more complications), ligament injury (e.g., lower subjective function scores, greater joint laxity, lower subsequent physical activity, more infections), and wounding (e.g., delayed healing, more complications, less satisfying cosmetic results). Smoking may elicit effects on fractures through low bone mineral density (BMD), lower dietary intake of calcium and vitamin D, altered calcium metabolism, and effects on osteogenesis and sex hormones. Effects on wound healing may be mediated through altered neutrophils and monocytes functions resulting in reduced ability to fight infections and remove damaged tissue, reduced gene expression of cytokines important for tissue healing, and altered fibroblast function leading to lower density and amount of new tissue formation. Limited data suggest smoking cessation has favorable effects on various aspects of bone health over periods of 1 to 30 years. Favorable effects on neutrophil and monocyte functions may occur as early as 4 weeks, but fibroblast function and collagen metabolism (important for wound remodeling) appear to take considerably longer and may be dependent on the amount of prior smoking. Part 2 of this series will use this information to explore the possibility of a causal relationship between smoking and injuries.


Burnett MW 18(1). 106 - 107 (Journal Article)

Spiritual Fitness: An Essential Component of Human Performance Optimization

Worthington D, Deuster PA 18(1). 100 - 105 (Journal Article)

Spirituality is a key interweaving and interacting domain, and an integral component for maintaining Special Operations Forces readiness; however, it remains an under-researched and likely one of the most poorly understood domains of Preservation of the Force and Family and Total Force Fitness initiatives. Although there are numerous factors that contribute to spiritual performance or spiritual fitness, core values and value-directed living are essential. An initial step toward spiritual performance or fitness is developing core values and identity, followed by a second step toward spiritual performance or fitness, which is developing an increased awareness and deeper understanding of those values. This process of developing core values and identity, and building awareness can be enhanced through cognitive flexibility and agility (psychological performance domain). This article explains the importance of "spirituality" as a component of Special Operations Forces performance and describes approaches to enhancing performance through various spiritual activities, including mindfulness, meditation, and prayer. These three practices can be adapted and modified to be more vertical or more horizontal in their application.

Prehospital Care of Canine Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

Palmer LE 18(1). 91 - 98 (Journal Article)

The intent of the Operational K9 (OpK9) ongoing series is to provide the Special Operations Medical Association community with clinical concepts and scientific information on preventive and prehospital emergency care relevant to the OpK9. Often the only medical support immediately available for an injured or ill OpK9 in the field is their handler or the human Special Operations Combat Medic or civilian tactical medic attached to the team (e.g., Pararescueman, 18D, SWAT medic). The information is applicable to personnel operating within the US Special Operations Command as well as civilian Tactical Emergency Medical Services communities that may have the responsibility of supporting an OpK9.

Routine Screening Laboratory Studies for Nonheat Stroke Field Heat Injuries Are Unnecessary: A Retrospective Review

Schauer SG, Pfaff JA 18(1). 88 - 90 (Journal Article)

Background: Heat injuries are common in the military training environment. Base policies often mandate that heat causalities require evaluation at a higher level of care, which comes at significant use of resources. Laboratory studies are often ordered routinely, but their utility is unclear at this time. Methods: This project evaluated the use of screening laboratory studies for heat casualties brought to Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital, Fort Polk, Louisiana. Casualties brought from the field directly to the emergency department (ED) were included. Abnormalities in laboratory study findings, admission/discharge rates, and length of stay were documented. Results: From May through September 2014, 104 casualties were seen in the ED because of heat injury. Laboratory tests were ordered for 101 patients. Of these, 11 patients were admitted to the hospital because of laboratory, history, and/or physical examination abnormalities. Nine were discharged in less than 24 hours. The remaining two were discharged within 48 hours; both had documented altered mental status on arrival to the ED. Laboratory test abnormalities were seen in most of the patients and appeared to have no impact on the decision to admit. Conclusion: Routine laboratory studies appeared to have low clinical utility in this patient population. A more targeted approach based on the history and physical examination may reduce military resource use.

Lead Exposure in the Special Operations Shooter How to Prevent Cognitive Decline and Permanent Disability

Brandon JW, Solarczyk JK, Durrani TS 18(1). 81 - 87 (Journal Article)

Lead toxicity is an important environmental disease and its effects on the human body can be devastating. Unique exposures to Special Operations Forces personnel may include use of firing ranges, use of automotive fuels, production of ammunition, and bodily retention of bullets. Toxicity may degrade physical and psychological fitness, and cause long-term negative health outcomes. Specific effects on fine motor movements, reaction times, and global function could negatively affect shooting skills and decision-making. Biologic monitoring and chelation treatment are poor solutions for protecting this population. Through primary prevention, Special Operations Forces personnel can be protected, in any environment, from the devastating effects of lead exposure. This article offers tools to physicians, environmental service officers, and Special Operations Medics for primary prevention of lead poisoning in the conventional and the austere or forward deployed environments.

Ocular Injuries and Cultural Influences in Afghanistan During 5 Months of Operation Enduring Freedom

Paz DA, Thomas KE, Primakov DG 18(1). 77 - 80 (Journal Article)

In support of Operation Enduring Freedom, American, North American Treaty Organization (NATO) Coalition, and Afghan forces worked together in training exercises and counterinsurgency operations. While serving at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, Kandahar, Afghanistan, numerous patients with explosive blast injuries (Coalition and Afghan security forces, and insurgents) were treated. A disparity was noted between the ocular injury patterns of US and Coalition forces in comparison with their Afghan counterparts, which were overwhelmingly influenced by the use, or lack thereof, of eye protection. Computed tomography imaging coupled, with a correlative clinical examination, demonstrated the spectrum of ocular injuries that can result from an explosive blast. Patient examination was performed by Navy radiologists and an ophthalmologist. A cultural analysis by was performed to understand why eye protection was not used, even if available to Afghan forces, by the injured patients in hope of bridging the gap between Afghan cultural differences and proper operational risk management of combat forces.

Blood Lead Toxicity Analysis of Multipurpose Canines and Military Working Dogs

Reid P, George C, Byrd CM, Miller L, Lee SJ, Motsinger-Reif A, Breen M, Hayduk DW 18(1). 74 - 76 (Journal Article)

Special Operations Forces and their accompanying tactical multipurpose canines (MPCs) who are involved in repeated live-fire exercises and military operations have the potential for increased blood lead levels and toxicity due to aerosolized and environmental lead debris. Clinical lead-toxicity symptoms can mimic other medical disorders, rendering accurate diagnosis more challenging. The objective of this study was to examine baseline lead levels of MPCs exposed to indoor firing ranges compared with those of nontactical military working dogs (MWDs) with limited or no exposure to the same environment. In the second part of the study, results of a commercially available, human-blood lead testing system were compared with those of a benchtop inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) analysis technique. Blood samples from 18 MPCs were tested during routine clinical blood draws, and six samples from a canine group with limited exposure to environmental lead (nontactical MWDs) were tested for comparison. There was a high correlation between results of the commercial blood-testing system compared with ICP-MS when blood lead levels were higher than 4.0µg/dL. Both testing methods recorded higher blood lead levels in the MPC blood samples than in those of the nontactical MWDs, although none of the MPC samples tested contained lead levels approaching those at which symptoms of lead toxicity have previously been reported in animals (i.e., 35µg/dL).

Successful Use of Ketamine as a Prehospital Analgesic by Pararescuemen During Operation Enduring Freedom

Lyon RF, Schwan C, Zeal J, Kharod C, Staak B, Petersen C, Rush SC 18(1). 70 - 73 (Journal Article)

Effective analgesia is a crucial part of the care and resuscitation of a traumatically injured patient. These secondary effects of pain may increase morbidity and mortality in the acutely injured patient. When ketamine is administered appropriately in the clinical setting, it can provide analgesia, anxiolysis, and amnesia for patients with less respiratory depression and hypotension than equivalent doses of opioid analgesics.

Intramuscular Tranexamic Acid in Tactical and Combat Settings

Vu EN, Wan WC, Yeung TC, Callaway DW 18(1). 62 - 68 (Journal Article)

Background: Uncontrolled hemorrhage remains a leading cause of preventable death in tactical and combat settings. Alternate routes of delivery of tranexamic acid (TXA), an adjunct in the management of hemorrhagic shock, are being studied. A working group for the Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care reviewed the available evidence on the potential role for intramuscular (IM) administration of TXA in nonhospital settings as soon as possible from the point of injury. Methods: EMBASE and MEDLINE/PubMed databases were sequentially searched by medical librarians for evidence of TXA use in the following contexts and/or using the following keywords: prehospital, trauma, hemorrhagic shock, optimal timing, optimal dose, safe volume, incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE), IM bioavailability. Results: A total of 183 studies were reviewed. The strength of the available data was variable, generally weak in quality, and included laboratory research, case reports, retrospective observational reviews, and few prospective studies. Current volume and concentrations of available formulations of TXA make it, in theory, amenable to IM injection. Current bestpractice guidelines for large-volume injection (i.e., 5mL) support IM administration in four locations in the adult human body. One case series suggests complete bioavailability of IM TXA in healthy patients. Data are lacking on the efficacy and safety of IM TXA in hemorrhagic shock. Conclusion: There is currently insufficient evidence to support a strong recommendation for or against IM administration of TXA in the combat setting; however, there is an abundance of literature demonstrating efficacy and safety of TXA use in a broad range of patient populations. Balancing the available data and risk- benefit ratio, IM TXA should be considered a viable treatment option for tactical and combat applications. Additional studies should focus on the optimal dose and bioavailability of IM dosing of patients in hemorrhagic shock, with assessment of potential downstream sequelae.

The Myth of Hyperresilience Evolutionary Concept Analysis of Resilience in Special Operations Forces

Rocklein-Kemplin K, Paun O, Sons N, Brandon JW 18(1). 54 - 60 (Journal Article)

Despite many resilience studies and resilience-building initiatives in the military, resilience as a concept remains granularly unexamined, vague, and inconsistently interpreted throughout military-specific research literature. Specifically, studies of military suicide and related mental health constructs assert that Servicemembers in Special Operations Forces (SOF) possess higher levels of resilience without providing an empirical basis for these statements. To provide rigorous evidence for future studies of resilience in SOF, a concept analysis was performed via Rodgers' evolutionary method to contextualize resilience in the SOF community and provide accurate redefinitions on which theoretical and methodological frameworks can be constructed reliably.

Laboratory Model of a Collapsible Tube to Develop Bleeding Control Interventions

Griffin LV, Kragh JF, Dubick MA 18(1). 47 - 52 (Journal Article)

Background: To develop knowledge of mechanical control of bleeding in first aid, a laboratory model was set up to simulate flow through a blood vessel. A collapsible tube was used to mimic an artery in two experiments to determine (1) the extent of volumetric flow reduction caused by increases in the degree of compression of the vessel and (2) the extent of flow reduction caused by increases in the length of compression. Methods: Water was used in vertical tubing. Gravity applied a pressure gradient of about 100mmHg to cause flow. A silicone tube (10mm-diameter lumen [the inner opening], 1mm-thick wall, 150mm length) was used. Tests of no compression of the external wall constituted the control group for both experiments. For all groups, flow volume was sampled over a period of time, and six samples were averaged. In both experiments, the study group consisted of tests with compression that was measured as the reduced area of the luminal cross section. In the first experiment, six groups with luminal area reductions of 0% (control), 74%, 81%, 91%, 94%, and 97% were tested. In the second experiment at 74% luminal area reduction, the three lengths of compression were 5mm, 20mm, and 70mm. The measured data were compared with calculated data by applying established mathematical equations. Results: In the first experiment, flow decreased with decreasing area due to luminal compression, but the association was a parabolic curve such that 94% or greater reduction in luminal area was required to reduce flow by greater than 50%. A reduction in luminal area of 97% reduced flow by 95%. In the second experiment, mean flow rates were not significantly different among the three lengths of compression. Measured data and calculated data were in good agreement. Conclusions: Compared with an uncompressed vessel, volumetric flow of water through a single, unsupported collapsible tube in steady, nonpulsatile conditions with compression applied to its external wall to produce a reduction in luminal area of 97% reduced flow by 95%. Flow was affected by the degree of compression but not by the length of compression.

Editorial Response

Keenan S 18(1). 139 - 140 (Editorial)

Feasibility and Proposed Training Pathway for Austere Application of Resuscitative Balloon Occlusion of the Aorta

Ross EM, Redman TT 18(1). 37 - 43 (Case Reports)

Background: Noncompressible junctional and truncal hemorrhage remains a significant cause of combat casualty death. Resuscitative endovascular balloon occlusion of the aorta (REBOA) is an effective treatment for many junctional and noncompressible hemorrhages. The current hospital standard for time of placement of REBOA is approximately 6 minutes. This study examined the training process and the ability of nonsurgical physicians to apply REBOA therapy in an austere field environment. Methods: This was a skill acquisition and feasibility study. The participants for this experiment were two board-certified military emergency medicine physicians with no prior endovascular surgery exposure. Both providers attended two nationally recognized REBOA courses for training. A perfused cadaver model was developed for the study. Each provider then performed REBOA during different phases of prehospital care. Time points were recorded for each procedure. Results: There were 28 REBOA catheter placement attempts in 14 perfused cadaver models in the nonhospital setting: eight placements in a field setting, eight placements in a static ambulance, four placements in a moving ambulance, and eight placements inflight on a UH-60 aircraft. No statistically significant differences with regard to balloon inflation time were found between the two providers, the side where the catheter was placed, or individual cadaver models. Successful placement was accomplished in 85.7% of the models. Percutaneous access was successful 53.6% of the time. The overall average time for REBOA placement was 543 seconds (i.e., approximately 9 minutes; median, 439 seconds; 95% confidence interval [CI], 429-657) and the average placement time for percutaneous catheters was 376 seconds (i.e., 6.3 minutes; 95% CI, 311-44 seconds) versus those requiring vascular cutdown (821 seconds; 95% CI, 655-986). Importantly, the time from the decision to convert to open cutdown until REBOA placement was 455 seconds (95% CI, 285-625). Conclusion: This study demonstrated that, with proper training, nonsurgical providers can properly place REBOA catheters in austere prehospital settings at speeds

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