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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.

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.

Larger-Caliber Alternative Devices for Decompression of Tension Hemopneumothorax in the Setting of Hemorrhagic Shock

McEvoy CS, Leatherman ML, Held JM, Fluke LM, Ricca RL, Polk T 18(4). 18 - 23 (Case Reports)

Background: The 14-gauge (14G) angiocatheter (AC) has an unacceptably high failure rate in treatment of tension pneumothorax (tPTX). Little is known regarding the interplay among hemorrhage, hemothorax (HTX), and tPTX. We hypothesized that increased hemorrhage predisposes tension physiology and that needle decompression fails more often with increased HTX. Methods: This is a planned secondary analysis of data from our recent comparison of 14G AC with 10-gauge (10G) AC, modified 14G Veress needle, and 3mm laparoscopic trocar conducted in a positive pressure ventilation tension hemopneumothorax model using anesthetized swine. Susceptibility to tension physiology was extrapolated from volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) instilled and time required to induce 50% reduction in cardiac output. Failures to rescue and recover were compared between the 10% and 20% estimated blood volume (EBV) HTX groups and across devices. Results: A total of 196 tension hemopneumothorax events were evaluated. No differences were noted in the volume of CO2 instilled nor time to tension physiology. HTX with 10% EBV had fewer failures compared with 20% HTX (7% versus 23%; p = .002). For larger-caliber devices, there was no difference between HTX groups, whereas smaller-caliber devices had more failures and longer time to rescue with increased HTX volume as well as increased variability in times to rescue in both HTX volume groups. Conclusion: Increased HTX volume did not predispose tension physiology; however, smaller-caliber devices were associated with more failures and longer times to rescue in 20% HTX as compared with 10% HTX. Use of larger devices for decompression has benefit and further study with more profound hemorrhage and HTX and spontaneous breathing models is warranted.

Introduction to the NATO Special Operations Combat Medic Research Ongoing Series

Sardianos D, Boland J 19(2). 118 - 121 (Journal Article)

Technology has become a necessity in modern society, providing capabilities that have never been experienced before. The integration of such capabilities arms today's Special Operations medic with abilities that can make a vast difference to the survivability rate of an ill or injured patient. Taking advantage of new technological capabilities such as advanced monitoring and diagnostics and portable ultrasound also plays a key role; together with the evolution in modern communication.

I Can't Breathe-A SIPe of Water

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

Exertional Heat Stroke: Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Knapik JJ, Epstein Y 19(2). 108 - 116 (Journal Article)

Temperature increases due to climate changes and operations expected to be conducted in hot environments make heat-related injuries a major medical concern for the military. The most serious of heat-related injuries is exertional heat stroke (EHS). EHS generally occurs when health individual perform physical activity in hot environments and the balance between body heat production and heat dissipation is upset resulting in excessive body heat storage. Blood flow to the skin is increased to assist in dissipating heat while gut blood flow is considerably reduced, and this increases the permeability of the gastrointestinal mucosa. Toxic materials from gut bacteria leak through the gastrointestinal mucosa into the central circulation triggering an inflammatory response, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), multiorgan failure, and vascular collapse. In addition, high heat directly damages cellular proteins resulting in cellular death. In the United States military, the overall incidence of clinically diagnosed heat stroke from 1998 to 2017 was (mean ± standard deviation) 2.7 ± 0.5 cases/10,000 Soldier-years and outpatient rates rose over this period. The cornerstone of EHS diagnosis is recognition of central nervous dysfunction (ataxia, loss of balance, convulsions, irrational behavior, unusual behavior, inappropriate comments, collapse, and loss of consciousness) and a body core temperature (obtained with a rectal thermometer) usually >40.5°C (105°F). The gold standard treatment is whole body cold water immersion. In the field where water immersion is not available it may be necessary to use ice packs or very cold, wet towels placed over as much of the body as possible before transportation of the victim to higher levels of medical care. The key to prevention of EHS and other heat-related injuries is proper heat acclimation, understanding work/rest cycles, proper hydration during activity, and assuring that physical activity is matched to the Soldiers' fitness levels. Also, certain dietary supplements (DSs) may have effects on energy expenditure, gastrointestinal function, and thermoregulation that should be considered and understood. In many cases over-motivation is a major risk factor. Commanders and trainers should be alert to any change in the Soldier's behavior. Proper attention to these factors should considerably reduce the incidence of EHS.

Fever of Unknown Origin in US Soldier: Telemedical Consultation Limitations in a Deployment to West Africa

Auchincloss PJ, Nam JJ, Blyth D, Childs G, Kraft K, Robben PM, Pamplin JC 19(2). 123 - 126 (Journal Article)

Objective: Review the application of telemedicine support for managing a patient with possible sepsis, suspected malaria, and unusual musculoskeletal symptoms. Clinical Context: Regionally Aligned Forces (RAF) supporting US Army Africa/Southern European Task Force (USARAF/ SETAF) in the Africa Command area of responsibility. Care provided by a small Role I facility on the compound. Organic Medical Expertise: Five 68W combat medics (one is the patient); one SOCM trained 68W combat medic. No US provider present in country. Closest Medical Support: Organic battalion physician assistant (PA) located in the USA; USARAF PA located in Italy; French Role II located in bordering West African country; medical consultation sought via telephone, WhatsApp® (communication with French physician) or over unclassified, encrypted e-mail. Earliest Evacuation: Estimated at 12 to 24 hours with appropriate country clearances and approval to fly from three countries including French forces support approval.

Update: Five Years of Prolonged Field Care in Special Operations Medicine

Riesberg JC, Loos PE 19(2). 122 (Journal Article)

This brief quarterly update from the SOMA Prolonged Field Care (PFC) Working Group focuses on the first of ten sequential reviews of the PFC Core Capabilities, starting with advanced airway management.

Improvised Inguinal Junctional Tourniquets: Recommendations From the Special Operations Combat Medical Skills Sustainment Course

Kerr W, Hubbard B, Anderson B, Montgomery HR, Glassberg E, King DR, Hardin RD, Knight RM, Cunningham CW 19(2). 128 - 133 (Journal Article)

Effectively and rapidly controlling significant junctional hemorrhage is an important effort of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and can potentially contribute to greater survival on the battlefield. Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved labeling of four devices for use as junctional tourniquets, many Special Operations Forces (SOF) medics do not carry commercially marketed junctional tourniquets. As part of ongoing educational improvement during Special Operations Combat Medical Skills Sustainment Courses (SOCMSSC), the authors surveyed medics to determine why they do not carry commercial tourniquets and present principles and methods of improvised junctional tourniquet (IJT) application. The authors describe the construction and application of IJTs, including the use of available pressure delivery devices and emphasizing that successful application requires sufficient and repetitive training.

Without Jumping to Conclusions

Hampton K 19(2). 127 (Journal Article)

Delayed Diagnosis in Army Ranger Postdeployment Primaquine-Induced Methemoglobinemia

Essendrop R, Friedline N, Cruz J 19(3). 14 - 16 (Case Reports)

Presumptive antirelapse therapy (PART) with primaquine for Plasmodium vivax malaria postdeployment is an important component of the US military Force Health Protection plan. While primaquine is well tolerated in the majority of cases, we present a unique case of an active duty Army Ranger without glucose-6-phosphatase dehydrogenase or cytochrome b5 reductase (b5R) deficiencies who developed symptomatic methemoglobinemia while taking PART following a deployment to Afghanistan.

Case Presentation: Creation and Utilization of a Novel Field Improvised Autologous Transfusion System in a Combat Casualty

Scarborough T, Turconi M, Callaway DW 19(2). 134 - 137 (Journal Article)

This case report describes the technical aspects in first use of a novel field improvised autologous transfusion (FIAT) system. It highlights a potential solution for specific trauma patients during advanced resuscitative care (ARC) and prolonged field care (PFC) scenarios where other blood products are not available.

Risk Associated With Autologous Fresh Whole Blood Training

Donham B, Barbee GA, Deaton TG, Kerr W, Wier RP, Fisher AD 19(3). 24 - 25 (Journal Article)

Fresh whole blood (FWB) is increasingly being recognized as the ideal resuscitative fluid for hemorrhagic shock. Because of this, military units are working to establish the capability to give FWB from a walking blood bank donor in environments that are unsupported by conventional blood bank services. Therefore, many military units are performing autologous blood transfusion training. In this training, a volunteer has a unit of blood collected and then transfused back into the same donor. The authors report their experience performing an estimated 3408 autologous transfusions in training and report no instances of hemolytic transfusion reactions or other major complications. With appropriate control measures in place, autologous FWB training is low-risk training.

I See Red! Red Light Illumination in Helicopter Air Ambulance Services

Schober P, Schwarte LA 19(3). 22 - 23 (Journal Article)

Helicopter air ambulance services (HAA) increasingly operate during darkness, and the cockpit crew prefers a dimmed light to be used in the cabin. Our HAA team is currently researching the use of dimmed red light. We encountered a downside to the use of red light-some texts and symbols became virtually invisible.

Management of Hemorrhage From Craniomaxillofacial Injuries and Penetrating Neck Injury in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: iTClamp Mechanical Wound Closure Device TCCC Guidelines Proposed Change 19-04 06 June 2019

Onifer DJ, McKee JL, Faudree LK, Bennett BL, Miles EA, Jacobsen T, Morey JK, Butler FK 19(3). 31 - 44 (Journal Article)

The 2012 study Death on the battlefield (2001-2011) by Eastridge et al.1 demonstrated that 7.5% of the prehospital deaths caused by potentially survivable injuries were due to external hemorrhage from the cervical region. The increasing use of Tactical Combat-Casualty Care (TCCC) and other medical interventions have dramatically reduced the overall rate of combat-related mortality in US forces; however, uncontrolled hemorrhage remains the number one cause of potentially survivable combat trauma. Additionally, the use of personal protective equipment and adaptations in the weapons used against US forces has caused changes in the wound distribution patterns seen in combat trauma. There has been a significant proportional increase in head and neck wounds, which may result in difficult to control hemorrhage. More than 50% of combat wounded personnel will receive a head or neck wound. The iTClamp (Innovative Trauma Care Inc., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) is the first and only hemorrhage control device that uses the hydrostatic pressure of a hematoma to tamponade bleeding from an injured vessel within a wound. The iTClamp is US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for use on multiple sites and works in all compressible areas, including on large and irregular lacerations. The iTClamp's unique design makes it ideal for controlling external hemorrhage in the head and neck region. The iTClamp has been demonstrated effective in over 245 field applications. The device is small and lightweight, easy to apply, can be used by any level of first responder with minimal training, and facilitates excellent skills retention. The iTClamp reapproximates wound edges with four pairs of opposing needles. This mechanism of action has demonstrated safe application for both the patient and the provider, causes minimal pain, and does not result in tissue necrosis, even if the device is left in place for extended periods. The Committee on TCCC recommends the use of the iTClamp as a primary treatment modality, along with a CoTCCC-recommended hemostatic dressing and direct manual pressure (DMP), for hemorrhage control in craniomaxillofacial injuries and penetrating neck injuries with external hemorrhage.

The NATO Special Operations Surgical Team Development Course A Program Overview

Parker PJ 19(3). 26 - 29 (Journal Article)

The Special Operations Surgical Team Development Course (SOSTDC) is a 5-day course held two or three times a year at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) training facility within the Special Operations Medical Branch (SOMB) of the Allied Centre for Medical Education (ACME). Its aim is to teach, train, develop, and encourage NATO partner nations to provide robust, hardened, and clinically able surgical resuscitation teams that are capable of providing close support to Special Operations Forces (SOF).

Airway Management for Army Reserve Combat Medics: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

Miller BM, Kinder C, Smith-Steinert R 19(3). 64 - 70 (Journal Article)

Background: An Army Reserve Combat Medic's training is focused on knowledge attainment, skill development, and building experience and training to prepare them to perform in austere conditions with limited resources like on the battlefield. Unfortunately, the exposure to skills they may be responsible for performing is limited. Research shows that greater than 90% of battlefield deaths occur in the prehospital setting, 24% of which are potentially survivable. Literature demonstrates that 91% of these deaths are related to hemorrhage; the remaining are related to other causes, including airway compromise. The skill and decision-making of this population are prime targets to optimize outcomes in the battlefield setting. Methods: Army Reserve combat medics were selected to voluntarily participate in an educational intervention provided by anesthesia providers focusing on airway management. Participants completed a preintervention assessment to evaluate baseline knowledge levels as well as comfort with airway skills. Medics then participated in a simulated difficult airway scenario. Next, airway management was reviewed, and navigation of the difficult airway algorithm was discussed. The presentation was followed by simulations at four hands-on stations, which focused on fundamental airway concepts such as bag-mask ventilation and placement of oral airways, tracheal intubation, placement of supraglottic airways, and cricothyrotomy. Pre/post knowledge assessments and performance evaluation tools were used to measure the effectiveness of the intervention. Results: Statistically significant results were found in self-reported confidence levels with airway skills (z = -2.803, p = .005), algorithm progression (z = -2.807, p = .005), and predicting difficulty with airway interventions based on the patient's features (z = -2.809, p = .005). Establishment of ventilation was completed faster after the intervention. More coherent and effective airway management was noted, new knowledge was gained, and implications from psychological research applied. Conclusion: Supplementing the training of Army Reserve Combat Medics with the utilization of anesthesia providers is an effective platform. This exercise imparted confidence in this population of military providers. This is critical for decision-making capabilities, performance, and the prevention of potentially survivable mortality on the battlefield.

Review: Getting Tourniquets Right = Getting Tourniquets Tight

Wall PL, Buising CM, Sahr SM 19(3). 52 - 63 (Journal Article)

Tourniquet application to stop limb bleeding is conceptually simple, but optimal application technique matters, generally requires training, and is more likely with objective measures of correct application technique. Evidence of problems with application techniques, knowledge, and training can be ascertained from January 2007 to August 2018 PubMed peer-reviewed papers and in Stop The Bleed-related videos. Available data indicates optimal technique when not under fire involves application directly on skin. For nonelastic tourniquets, optimal application technique includes pulling the strap tangential to the limb at the redirect buckle (parallel to the limb-encircling strap entering the redirect buckle). Before engaging the mechanical advantage tightening system, the secured strap should exert at least 150mmHg inward, and skin indentation should be visible. For Combat Application Tourniquets, optimal technique includes the slot in the windlass rod parallel to the stabilization plate during the single 180° turn that should be sufficient for achieving arterial occlusion, which involves visible skin indentation and pressures of 250mmHg to 428mmHg on normotensive adult thighs. Appropriate pressures on manikins and isolated-limb simulations depend on how the under-tourniquet pressure response of each compares to the under-tourniquet pressure response of human limbs for matching tourniquet-force applications. Lack of such data is one of several concerns with manikin and isolated-limb simulation use. Regardless of model or human limb use, pictures and videos purporting to show proper tourniquet application techniques should show optimal tourniquet application techniques and properly applied, arterially occlusive limb tourniquets. Ideally, objective measures of correct tourniquet application technique would be included.

Deliberate Practice in Combat Application Tourniquet Placement by Loop Passage

Kragh JF, Aden JK, Dubick MA 19(3). 45 - 50 (Journal Article)

Background: We sought opportunities to develop learning practices of individual first aid providers. In this study, we simulated deliberate practice in placing limb tourniquets. Methods: This study comprised tourniquet uses by two experienced persons. Their practice sessions focused on developing a motor skill with periodic coaching. The Combat Application Tourniquet is 1.5-inches wide and was used in a technique of loop passage around the end of the limb to place it 2-3 inches above the wound. The simulated limb was a Z-Medica Hemorrhage Control Trainer. Both users applied the tourniquet six times over 5 days to accrue 30 uses individually (N = 60 tourniquet applications for the study). Results: When represented as summary parameters, differences were small. For example, average ease of use was the same for both users, but such parameters only took a snapshot of performance, yielding a general assessment. However, for a learning curve by use number, a surrogate of experience accrual, application time revealed spiral learning. The amount that users compressed a limb averaged −15% compared with its unsqueezed state. Placement accuracy was classified relative to gap widths between the tourniquet and the wound, and of 60 performances, 55 were satisfactory and five were unsatisfactory (i.e., placement was <2 inches from the wound). When a tourniquet only overlaid the 2-inch edge of the placement zone (i.e., tourniquet was 2-3.5 inches away from the wound), no error was made, but errors were made in crossing that 2-inch edge. These gauging errors led us to create a template for learners to see and to demonstrate what the meaning of 2-3 inches is. Conclusion: Each metric had value in assessing first aid, but turning attention to gauging wound-tourniquet gaps revealed placement errors. Analysis of such errors uncovered what 2-3 inches meant in operation. Spiral learning may inform the development of best readiness practices such as coaching deliberate-practice sessions.

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