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Airway and Hypothermia Prevention: and Treatment via STEAM The System for Thermogenic Emergency Airway Management

Stevens R, Pierce B, Tilley L 22(4). 72 - 76 (Journal Article)

Military medicine has made significant advancements in decreasing mortality by addressing the lethal triad - metabolic acidosis, coagulopathy, and hypothermia. However, casualties are still succumbing to injury. Recent conflict zones have led to the development of remarkable life-saving innovations, including the management of compressible hemorrhage and whole blood transfusions. Nevertheless, hypothermia prevention and treatment techniques remain relatively unchanged. Hypothermia prevention is anticipated to become more critical in future operations due to a predicted increase in evacuation times and reliance on Prolonged Casualty Care (PCC). This is likely secondary to increasingly distanced battlespaces and the mobility challenges of operating in semi-/non-permissive environments. Innovation is essential to combat this threat via active airway rewarming in the vulnerable patient. Thus, we propose the development, fabrication, and efficacy testing of a device in which we estimate being able to control temperature and humidity at physiologic levels in the PCC setting and beyond.

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Flotation-Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique: A Proposed Therapy for Improving Performance and Recovery in Special Forces Operators - A Narrative Review

O'Hara R, Sussman LR, Sheehan R, Keizer B, Tiede JM 22(4). 65 - 69 (Journal Article)

The flotation-restriction environmental stimulation technique (FR) may have utility as a recovery tool for improving performance in elite competitive athletes and Special Operations Forces Operators (SOs). Studies suggest that FR may ameliorate various neurophysiological disorders and improve performance in recreational and elite athletic populations. We sought to understand whether there is evidence to support the use of FR to enhance physiological and psychological performance parameters in the SO population and to provide postulations as to the mechanisms of action of FR therapy. We performed an online literary search of publications dating from 1982 to 2021 and identified 34 sources addressing the aims, depending on population and condition or conditions, being treated. The reported physiological and psychological benefits of FR range from immediate to lasting 4 months. Overall, eight to twelve FR treatment sessions of from 40 to 90 minutes each may provide variable long-term benefits. The associated synergistic benefits of FR may be attributed to its thermal, chemical, and mechanical effects but deserve further exploration. Based on the current evidence, FR may serve as an effective performance-recovery therapy for improving pain, sleep, and performance measures (e.g., marksmanship and physical performance) in trained, untrained, and healthy adults. Future research focusing on FR as a unimodal recovery intervention is warranted in a specialized group of SOs.

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After Action Report: Lessons Learned From Simulating Unified Command In Response to an Active Shooter Incident Using a Command Competency Laboratory

Neal DJ, Loconti P, Mengel T, Holway K, Wenner D 22(4). 60 - 64 (Journal Article)

On October 10, 2019, the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue (LCFR) led one of the largest act of violence (AVI) exercises ever conducted in Loudoun County, Virginia. Over 300 participants and 50 role-players participated across 15 county departments and agencies within Loudoun County. The exercise identified an important recommendation: "future joint unified command trainings are needed throughout the fire and law enforcement command structures." Effective, unified command is an essential NFPA 3000 principle of responding to an AVI. "The success or failure of the response will hinge on the quality of unified command." After-action reports from AVIs across the United States emphasized the importance of unified command. A second exercise recommendation proposed "a joint AVI unified command competency scenario between LCFR and LCSO should be developed and delivered across all levels of supervision . . . this scenario should demonstrate ‘best practices' for establishing and operating unified command between LCFR and LCSO." The authors developed two active shooter command competency simulations that require LCSO and LCFR to form unified command and manage the initial response. The simulations reinforced accepted response practices, such as identification of cold/warm/hot zones, early unified command, rescue task force team deployment, and protected corridor establishment. The simulations were packaged into a unified command competency training and simulation program. Through the facilitated debriefings with participants and facilitator debriefs, three types of lessons learned were identified: 1) high threat incident response lessons, 2) lessons for conducting AVIs in the command competency lab, and 3) active threat operational considerations for command officers.

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An Exploratory Comparison of Water-Tamped and -Untamped Explosive Breaches: Practical Applications for the Tactical Community via a Pilot Study

Kamimori GH, McQuiggan W, Ramos AN, LaValle CR, Misistia A, Salib J, Egnoto MJ 22(4). 56 - 59 (Journal Article)

Background: Tamping explosive charges used by breachers is an increasingly common technique. The ability to increase the directional effectiveness of the charge used, combined with the potential to reduce experienced overpressure on breachers, makes tamping a desirable tool not only from an efficacy standpoint for breachers but also from a safety standpoint for operational personnel. The long-term consequences of blast exposure are an open question and may be associated with temporary performance deficits and negative health symptomatology. Purpose: This work evaluates breaches of varying charge weight, material breached, and tamping device used to determine the value of tamping during various scenarios by measuring actual breaches conducted during military and law enforcement training for efficacy and blast overpressure on Operators. Methods: Three data collections across 18 charges of various construction were evaluated with blast overpressure sensors at various distances and locations where breachers would be located, to assess explosive forces on human personnel engaged in breaching activities. Results and Conclusions: Findings indicate that water tamping in general is a benefit on moderate and heavy charges but offers less benefit at a low charge with regard to mitigating blast overpressure on breachers. Reduced overpressure allows Operators to stage closer to explosives and lowers the potential for compromised reaction time. It also reduces the likelihood of negative consequences that can result from excessive overpressure exposure and allow Operators to "do more with less" in complex environments, where resource access may be limited by logistic or other limitations. However, tamping in all instances improved blast efficacy in creating successful breaches. Future studies are planned to investigate tamping mediums beyond water and environment changes, whether tamping can be used to mitigate acoustic insult, and other explosive types.

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Cric in the Dark: Surgical Cricothyrotomy in Low Light Tactical Environments

Getz C, Stuart SM, Barbour BM, Verga JM, Roszko PJ, Friedrich EE 22(4). 50 - 54 (Journal Article)

Background: Surgical cricothyrotomy (SC) is a difficult procedure with high failure rates in the battlefield environment. The difficulty of this procedure is compounded in a low-light tactical environment in which white light cannot be used. This study compared the use of red-green (RG) light and red (R) light in the performance of SC in a low-light environment. Materials and Methods: Tactical Combat Casualty Care-certified navy corpsmen (n = 33) were provided 15 minutes of standardized instruction followed by hands-on practice with the Tactical CricKit and the H&H bougie-assisted Emergency Cricothyrotomy Kit. Participants acclimated to a dark environment for 30 minutes before performing SC on a mannequin with both devices using both R and RG light in a randomized order. Application time, success, participant preference, and participant confidence were analyzed. Results: There were similarly high levels of successful placement (>87.5%) in all four cohorts. Light choice did not appear to affect placement time with either of the two kits. On Likert-scale surveys, participants reported that RG decreased difficulty (p < .0001) and increased confidence (p < .0001) in performing the procedure. Conclusion: RG light increased confidence and decreased perceived difficulty when performing SC, though no differences in placement time or success were observed.

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Where Do We Stand on "Buddy Transfusion" During Military Operations?

Daniel Y, Derkenne C, Mahe P, Travers S, Martinaud C 22(4). 46 - 49 (Journal Article)

Warm fresh whole-blood transfusion between comrades on the battlefield, also known as "buddy transfusion," has been thrust back into the limelight for several years now. It means drawing blood on the battlefield, once a bleeding soldier needs a transfusion, from one of their uninjured companions and immediately infusing it. It is a lifesaving procedure, effective and hardy. This work aims to answer the main questions that military caregivers might have about it: interest of this procedure, donor and recipient safety, and hemostatic capacity of the blood collected this way.

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Comparing a Novel Hand-Held Device for Chest Tube Insertion to the Traditional Open Tube Thoracostomy for Simple Pneumothorax in a Porcine Model

Dilday J, Heidenreich B, Spitzer H, Abuhakmeh Y, Ahnfeldt E, Watt J, Mase VJ 22(4). 41 - 45 (Journal Article)

Background: Tube thoracostomy is the most effective treatment for pneumothorax, and on the battlefield, is lifesaving. In combat, far-forward adoption of open thoracostomy has not been successful. Therefore, the ability to safely and reliably perform chest tube insertion in the far-forward combat theatre would be of significant value. The Reactor is a hand-held device for tube thoracostomy that has been validated for tension pneumothorax compared to needle decompression. Here we investigate whether the Reactor has potential for simple pneumothorax compared to open thoracostomy. Treatment of pneumothorax before tension physiology ensues is critical. Methods: Simple pneumothoraces were created in 5 in-vivo swine models and confirmed with x-ray. Interventions were randomized to open technique (OT, n = 25) and Reactor (RT, n = 25). Post-procedure radiography was used to confirm tube placement and pneumothorax resolution. Video Assisted Thoracoscopic Surgery (VATS) was used to evaluate for iatrogenic injuries. 50 chest tubes were placed, with 25 per group. Results: There were no statistical differences between the groups for insertion time, pneumothorax resolution, or estimated blood loss (p = .91 and .83). Injury rates between groups varied, with 28% (n = 7) in the Reactor group and 8% (n = 2) the control group (p = .06). The most common injury was violation of visceral pleura (10%, n = 5, both groups) and violation of the mediastinum (8%, n = 4, both groups). Conclusion: The Reactor device was equal compared to open thoracostomy for insertion time, pneumothorax resolution, and injury rates. The device required smaller incisions compared to tube thoracostomy and may be useful adjunct in simple pneumothorax management.

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Unit Collective Medical Training in the 75th Ranger Regiment

Gonzalez S, Vasquez PF, Montgomery HR, Conklin CC, Conaway ZA, Pate DM, Lopata JF, Kotwal RS 22(4). 28 - 39 (Journal Article)

The 75th Ranger Regiment's success with eliminating preventable death on the battlefield is innate to the execution of a continuous operational readiness training cycle that integrates individual and unit collective medical training. This is a tactical solution to a tactical problem that is solved by the entire unit, not just by medics. When a casualty occurs, the unit must immediately respond as a team to extract, treat, and evacuate the casualty while simultaneously completing the tactical mission. All in the unit must maintain first responder medical skills and medics must be highly proficient. Leaders must be prepared to integrate casualty management into any phase of the mission. Leaders must understand that (1) the first casualty can be anyone; (2) the first responder to a casualty can be anyone; (3) medical personnel manage casualty care; and (4) leaders have ownership and responsibility for all aspects of the mission. Foundational to training is a command-directed casualty response system which serves as a forcing function to ensure proficiency and mastery of the basics. Four programs have been developed to train individual and collective tasks that sustain the Ranger casualty response system: (1) Ranger First Responder, (2) Advanced Ranger First Responder, (3) Ranger Medic Assessment and Validation, and (4) Casualty Response Training for Ranger Leaders. Unit collective medical training incorporates tactical leader actions to facilitate the principles of casualty care. Tactical leader actions are paramount to execute a casualty response battle drill efficiently and effectively. Successful execution of this battle drill relies on a command-directed casualty response system and mastery of the basics through rehearsals, repetition, and conditioning.

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Does Mental and Visual Skills Training Improve High-Value Target Identification and Marksmanship Among Elite Soldiers?

Dawes JJ, Tramel W, Bartley N, Bricker D, Werth-Bailey K, Brodine L, Clark C, Goldberg P, Pagel K, Federico T, Bullinger D, Canada DM 22(4). 22 - 25 (Journal Article)

Background: The purpose of this preliminary investigation was to determine the impact of a mental and visual skills training (MVST) program on a high-value target identification and marksmanship (HVTM) task among Special Operations Forces (SOF) Soldiers. Methods: Deidentified archival data for 52 male SOF Operators (age: 31.06 ± 4.10 years) were assessed to determine if differences in performance existed between MVST program users (n = 15) and nonusers (n = 37) on a HVTM task performed immediately after a Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC) stress shoot. Independent-samples t-tests were utilized to determine if significant mean score differences existed between groups on specific shooting elements within the HVTM task. Effect size calculations were also performed to assess the magnitude of differences between groups in each measure of performance. Results: Statistically significant differences in performance were not discovered between MVST users and nonusers on overall score (Score) or any individual elements of the HVTM task. However, small to medium effect sizes (d = 0.305-0.493) were observed between groups in Score, Positive Identification Accuracy, Shot Accuracy, and Kill Shot Score. Conclusion: While inconclusive, these findings suggest the use of a MVST program administered by a trained cognitive performance specialist may have the potential to positively influence HVTM performance. More research using larger sample sizes is required to confirm this supposition.

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Incidence of Airway Interventions in the Setting of Serious Facial Trauma

Schauer SG, Naylor JF, Fisher AD, Becker TE, April MD 22(4). 18 - 21 (Journal Article)

Background: Airway obstruction is the second leading cause of preventable death on the battlefield. Most airway obstruction occurs secondary to traumatic disruptions of the airway anatomical structures. Facial trauma is frequently cited as rationale for maintaining cricothyrotomy in the medics' skill set over the supraglottic airways more commonly used in the civilian setting. Methods: We used a series of emergency department procedure codes to identify patients within the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DoDTR) from January 2007 to August 2016. This is a sub-group analysis of casualties with documented serious facial trauma based on an abbreviated injury scale of 3 or greater for the facial body region. Results: Our predefined search codes captured 28,222 DoDTR casualties, of which we identified 136 (0.5%) casualties with serious facial trauma, of which 19 of the 136 had documentation of an airway intervention (13.9%). No casualties with serious facial trauma underwent nasopharyngeal airway (NPA) placement, 0.04% underwent cricothyrotomy (n = 10), 0.03% underwent intubation (n = 9), and a single subject underwent supraglottic airway (SGA) placement (<0.01%). We only identified four casualties (0.01% of total dataset) with an isolated injury to the face. Conclusions: Serious injury to the face rarely occurred among trauma casualties within the DoDTR. In this subgroup analysis of casualties with serious facial trauma, the incidence of airway interventions to include cricothyrotomy was exceedingly low. However, within this small subset the mortality rate is high and thus better methods for airway management need to be developed.

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Improvised Management of Polycythemia Vera Using Whole Blood Transfusion Kits

Carius BM, Dodge PM, Bates JA, Castaneda P 22(4). 15 - 17 (Journal Article)

Polycythemia vera (PV) is a frequent myeloproliferative disease resulting in excessive red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets rarely identified in military populations. Increased blood viscosity and platelets can lead to fatal myocardial infarction and stroke. Historically, regimented phlebotomy managed this condition, but modern medicinal advances now are utilized. These immunosuppressive medications are generally incompatible with active-duty service and can lead to medical discharge. Phlebotomy therefore is critical for readiness and health; however, this can be challenging in resource-limited environments, necessitating effective improvisation. We describe an active-duty Soldier with PV symptoms consisting of substernal chest pressure, bilateral lower extremity paresthesias, and persistent pruritic neck rash. He had an elevated hematocrit (Hct) of 47%, necessitating phlebotomy and posing a challenge to his primary care team. The local emergency medicine team employed blood collection bags from whole blood (WB) transfusion kits, including proven volume estimation methods, to routinely draw one unit of blood and effectively manage this condition. This is the first reported case in military literature of PV managed with improvised field resources and techniques.

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Comparison of Warming Capabilities Between Buddy Lite, enFlow, and Thermal Angel for US Army Medical Personnel in Austere Conditions: A Literature Review

Vallier DJ, Anderson WJ, Snelson JV, Yauger YJ, Felix JR, Alford KI, Bermoy WA 22(4). 9 - 13 (Journal Article)

US Army Forward Surgical Elements (FSEs) are highly mobile teams that provide damage control surgery (DCS) and damage control resuscitation (DCR) in austere locations that often lack standard hospital utilities (electricity, heat, food, and water). FSEs rely on portable battery-operated intravenous (IV) fluid warmers to remain light and mobile. However, their ability to warm blood in a massive resuscitation requires additional analysis. The purpose of this literature review is to examine the three most common battery-operated IV fluid warmers as determined by type and quantity listed on the Mission Table of Organization and Equipment (MTOE) of organic mobile medical units. These include the Buddy Lite, enFlow, and Thermal Angel, which are available to deployed US Army FSEs for blood resuscitation therapy. Based on limited available evidence, the enFlow produced higher outlet temperatures, effectively warmed greater volumes, reached the time to peak temperature faster, and produced greatest flow rates, with cool saline (5-10°C), compared to the Thermal Angel and Buddy Lite. However, recently the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Class 1 recall on enFlow cartridges. Testing demonstrated aluminum elution from enFlow cartridges into IV solutions, thereby exposing patients to potentially unsafe aluminum levels. The authors recommend FSE units conduct a 100% enFlow cartridge inventory and seek an alternative IV fluid warming system prior to enFlow cartridge disposal. If an alternative does not exist, or the alternative warming system does not fit mission requirements, then medical personnel must carefully weigh the risks and benefits associated with the enFlow delivery system.

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Active Warfighter Mental Health Lower in Mid-Career

Barczak-Scarboro NE, Cole WR, DeFreese JD, Fredrickson BL, Kiefer AW, Bailar-Heath M, Burke RJ, DeLellis SM, Kane SF, Lynch JH, Means GE, Depenbrock PJ, Mihalik JP 22(3). 129 - 135 (Journal Article)

Purpose: The present study investigated Special Operations Forces (SOF) combat Servicemember mental health at different SOF career stages in association with resilience. Methods: Fifty-eight SOF combat Service Members either entering SOF (career start; n=38) or multiple years with their SOF organization (mid-career; n=20) self-reported mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) history, resilience, subjective well-being, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Poisson regression analyses were employed to test SOF career stage differences in each mental health symptom using resilience, while accounting for other pertinent military factors. Results: There were significant interaction effects of SOF career stage and resilience on mental health symptoms. SOF career start combat Servicemembers endorsed lower depression and posttraumatic stress and higher subjective well-being with higher resilience, but these associations between resilience and mental health symptoms were not seen in SOF mid-career Servicemembers. Conclusions: Although preliminary, the adaptive association between resilience and mental health seemed to be blunted in combat Servicemembers having served multiple years in SOF. This information informs research to provide evaluation tools to support prophylactic performance and long-term health preservation in military populations.

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Smallpox as a Bioagent: A Refresher and Update for the SOF Provider

Zafar SJ, Shishido AA 22(3). 124 - 128 (Journal Article)

Smallpox plagued humans for millennia until its eradication in 1980 following a successful global campaign led by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the first known biological weapon to be used in war and has been weaponized in the past by the former Soviet Union. To date, smallpox remains a Category A Bioagent and is assessed to be a relevant threat to US military personnel. Given that the last natural case of smallpox occurred more than 40 years ago, a high level of suspicion along with a substantial understanding of the disease process are required to recognize potential future cases. While available countermeasures are limited, several new agents have recently become available for the prevention and treatment of smallpox and have been added to the strategic national stockpile. This review serves as a refresher and update for the clinical disease, to include its epidemiology and management with updated FDA-approved countermeasures.

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Critical Competencies of Military Embedded Health and Performance Professionals: The "Culture General" Approach

Chamberlin R, McCarthy R, Lunasco TK, Park GH, Deuster PA 22(3). 118 - 123 (Journal Article)

Human performance teams (HPT) delivering a wide range of services within military unit communities serve as a model for advancing business practices in support of the 2018 National Defense Strategy. Relatively new, the demand for these embedded professionals continues to grow in response to its favorable proximity, community-based design, operationalized delivery system, and adaptive business practices. However, many civilian professionals come from diverse disciplines of specialties and experiences. As they integrate into unit communities, it becomes known that many do not possess formal training or experience working with the US military or its Servicemembers, delivering community-based services, operating in the capacity of a force multiplier, or culturally adapting their professional skills. Given the steep learning curve in transitioning from a conventional delivery model to the military embedded model, even newly minted military health and performance professionals may be underprepared when they arrive at their assigned military unit communities. In this article, we examine the military's embedded health and performance service delivery model. We add specific focus on those critical "embedded" professional competencies and skills foundational to establishing and sustaining thriving service delivery. We then offer strategies and tools collected from embedded health and performance professionals currently serving in military unit communities across the Department of Defense (DoD). Finally, we provide a rationale for the need for embedded competency training to improve the preparedness of professionals who are currently serving, will be serving, or have a general interest in serving as an embedded professional within DoD military unit communities.

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Implications of Neurological Directed-Energy Weapons for Military Medicine

Lyon RF, Gramm J, Branagan B, Houck SC 22(3). 104 - 107 (Journal Article)

Since 2016, there has been an increase in reported cases of intelligence officers and diplomats hearing pulsing sounds and experiencing neurophysiologic and cognitive symptoms. These varied and often intense symptoms manifest in ways similar to a traumatic brain injury (TBI) but without inciting trauma. Known formerly as "unconventionally acquired brain injury" (UBI), these events are now labeled "anomalous health incidents" (AHIs). Investigations of these incidents suggest reasons to be concerned that a specific type of neuroweapon may be the cause-a directed energy weapon (DEW). Neuroweapons that target the brain to influence cognition and behavior are leading to a new domain of warfare-neurowarfare. The implications and resultant stakes, especially for the Special Operations community, are significant. This article focuses specifically on the implications of DEWs as a neuroweapon causing UBIs/AHIs for military medical practitioners and suggests using a comprehensive strategy, analogous to that of chemical warfare or other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to improve our preparedness for the medical repercussions of neurowarfare.

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Hypertonic Saline for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury With Herniation: A Military Prehospital Case Report

Antonino N, Payne R, Gaddy M, DeSoucy ES, Rush SC, Michael R 22(3). 98 - 100 (Journal Article)

Severe traumatic brain injury (sTBI) is a devastating injury with limited prehospital therapies available. The Joint Trauma System (JTS) Clinical Practice Guidelines recommend hypertonic saline (HTS) for casualties with sTBI and signs of impending or ongoing herniation (IOH), but its use by combat medics has never been reported in the literature. This report details the management of a pregnant patient with sTBI and signs of IOH, including the use of HTS, by US Air Force pararescumen in an austere prehospital setting. Treatment with HTS was followed by improvement in the patient's neurologic exam and successful evacuation to definitive care where her child was delivered alive. Additionally, we review the pathophysiology and signs of herniation, the mechanism of action of hyperosmotic therapies, and the rationale behind the use of HTS in the combat setting.

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Bilateral Pneumothoraces in a Tandem Parachuting Passenger Without Traumatic Impact: A Case Report

Fedor PJ, Riley B, Fowl DA, Donahue A 22(3). 94 - 97 (Case Reports)

In parachuting, orthopedic and head injuries are well-documented risks associated with the parachute deployment and landing phases. Thoracic injuries have only been seen on rare occasion in conjunction with direct impact trauma. In this report, we detail a case of a young, healthy, tandem skydiving passenger who suffered bilateral pneumothoraces with delayed symptom onset, with no identifiable injury during the jump or landing. Exploring the forces of the parachute "opening shock," we suggest a plausible compressive mechanism for this novel presentation, as well as briefly discuss the options for diagnosis and conservative management of pneumothorax in the operational context. While this is an exceedingly rare event, pneumothorax should be considered in patients complaining of thoracic symptoms following a skydive.

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Operational Consideration for Definitive Airway Management in the Austere Setting: A Case Report

Morvan J, Cotte J, des Deserts MD, Worlton T, Menini W, Cathelinaud O, Pasquier P 22(3). 90 - 93 (Journal Article)

In modern and asymmetric conflicts, traumatic airway obstruction caused by penetrating injury to the face and neck anatomy is the second leading cause of preventable mortality. Definitive airway management in the emergency setting is most commonly accomplished by endotracheal intubation. When this fails or is not possible, a surgical airway, usually cricothyrotomy, is indicated. The clinical choice for establishing a definitive airway in the austere setting is impacted by operational factors such as a mass casualty incident or availability and type of casualty evacuation. This is a case report of a patient with severe cervicofacial injuries with imminent airway compromise in the setting of a mass casualty incident, without possibility of sedation and mechanical ventilation during his evacuation. The authors seek to highlight the considerations and lessons learned for emergency cricothyrotomy.

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