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Battlefield Analgesia: Adherence to Tactical Combat Casualty Care Guidelines

Schauer SG, Fisher AD, April MD, Carter R, Cunningham CW, Aden JK, Fernandez JD, DeLorenzo RA 19(1). 70 - 74 (Journal Article)

Background: Low rates of prehospital analgesia, as recommended by Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines, have been demonstrated in the Joint Theaters combat setting. The reasons for this remain unclear. This study expands on previous reports by evaluating a larger prehospital dataset for determinants of analgesia administration. Methods: This was part of an approved quality assurance project evaluating adherence to TCCC guidelines across multiple modalities. Data were from the Prehospital Trauma Registry, which existed from January 2013 through September 2014, and comprises data from TCCC cards, Department of Defense 1380 forms, and after-action reports to provide real-time feedback to units on prehospital medical care. Results: Of 705 total patient encounters, there were 501 documented administrations of analgesic medications given to 397 patients. Of these events, 242 (34.3%) were within TCCC guidelines. Special Operations Command had the highest rate of overall adherence, but rates were still low (68.5%). Medical officers had the highest rates of overall administration. The low rates of administration and adherence persisted across all subgroups. Conclusion: Rates of analgesia administration remained low overall and in subgroup analyses. Medical officers appeared to have higher rates of compliance with TCCC guidelines for analgesia administration, but overall adherence to TCCC guidelines was low. Future research will be aimed at finding methods to improve administration and adherence rates.

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Integrating Prolonged Field Care Into Rough Terrain and Mountain Warfare Training: The Mountain Critical Care Course

Nicholson B, Neskey J, Stanfield R, Fetterolf B, Ersando J, Cohen J, Kue R 19(1). 66 - 69 (Journal Article)

Current prolonged field care (PFC) training routinely occurs in simulated physical locations that force providers to continue care until evacuation to definitive care, as based on the staged Ruck-Truck-House-Plane model. As PFC-capable teams move further forward into austere environments in support of the fight, they are in physical locations that do not fit this staged model and may require teams to execute their own casualty evacuation through rough terrain. The physical constraints that come specifically with austere, mountainous terrain can challenge PFC providers to initiate resuscitative interventions and challenge their ability to sustain these interventions during lengthy, dismounted movement over unimproved terrain. In this brief report, we describe our experience with a novel training course designed for PFC-capable medical teams to integrate their level of advanced resuscitative care within a mountainous, rough terrain evacuation-training program. Our goals were to identify training gaps for Special Operations Forces medical units tasked to operate in a cold-weather, mountain environment with limited evacuation resources and the challenges related to maintaining PFC interventions during dismounted casualty movement.

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Low-Resource Tactical Combat Casualty Care Training for Peshmerga Units in Remote Areas of Kurdistan

Taylor D, Murphy J, Stolley Z 19(1). 81 - 87 (Journal Article)

The Peshmerga are the official military of the autonomous region of Kurdistan, Iraq. There remains a high level of variability across Peshmerga units in medical equipment and training. Presumably, Peshmerga soldiers are dying from preventable causes of death due to combat-related injuries, just as US troops did before the introduction of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) training and supplies. This report outlines the efforts of a small US-based collective to provide TCCC training at the TCCC for all combatants skill level to Peshmerga forces and develop members of the Peshmerga as trainers.

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EpiNATO-2: Enhancing Situational Awareness and Overall Force Health Protection While Deployed in the Combined Joint NATO Environment: Describing the Identified 2016 Q Fever Outbreak in Kosovo Force (KFOR)

Hoysal N, McCown ME, Fazekas L, Krabbe C 19(1). 76 - 80 (Journal Article)

EpiNATO-2 is the only interoperable health surveillance system that is defined in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) doctrine. It was first implemented in the Kosovo Force and European Union Training Mission Mali in 2013. EpiNATO-2 is mandated for use during all NATO operations. Its coverage has steadily increased and now includes all NATO Joint and Component Command Operations and several non-NATO operations. The system monitors morbidity predominately for Role 1 sites by using weekly reports from the medics and other medical providers. The reports for all sites in theater are sent to the Combined Joint Medical (CJMED), which consolidates and submits them to NATO Deployment Health Surveillance Capability (DHSC), the satellite branch of NATO Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine (MILMED COE), for analysis and feedback. Although EpiNATO-2 will likely have a number of overlaps with most nations' disease and nonbattle injury trackers, a distinguishing characteristic is that it has specific categories for classifying more clinical activity. Sustaining the quality of data collection is paramount and achieved through contemporaneous analysis and feedback that are disseminated via CJMED to all providers. This enhances situational awareness about evolving trends in health issues across the deployed force and is intended to provide information for action and medical decision-making and force health protection assurance at the local and theater levels. The awareness imparted by this article can add to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) medics' tool kit to ensure success for the SOF medic and SOF community while deployed or collaborating with NATO and NATO partner nation militaries at any level in theater.

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Ranger Athlete Warrior Assessment Performance in a Reserve Officer Training Corps Training Environment

Meckley DP, Hulbert K, Stewart D, O'Brien N, Barringer N, Hornsby JH 19(1). 96 - 98 (Journal Article)

Muscular strength, power, and aerobic capacity are vital to Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (AROTC) Cadets as well as active-duty Soldiers, especially when lifting heavy objects, traveling long distances, or moving with maximum speed and agility. The purpose of this study was to examine the change (after a pre/post intervention) of 5 weeks of resistance strength training and aerobic capacity training on a Ranger Athlete Warrior (RAW) assessment. Twelve (males, n = 10; females, n = 2) college-aged AROTC Cadets volunteered for this study during their train-up for the annual Ranger Challenge Competition. Each training week consisted of two resistance, two aerobic, and one tactical training session lasting about 90 minutes. The RAW assessment consisted of the following: 5-10-5 shuttle, standing broad jump, 3-repetition maximum (RM) trap bar deadlift, pull-ups, metronome pushups, heel claps, and two 300-yard shuttles. Paired samples t tests produced statistically significant differences (pre vs post): 5-10-5 (p = .04), 3-RM trap bar deadlift (p = .01), and metronome push-ups (p = .01). The results suggest that combining resistance strength and endurance and aerobic capacity training at a set volume with a self-selected intensity improved the Cadets' agility, lower-body strength, and upper-body muscular endurance. Implementing a program similar to this in other AROTC programs could also improve Cadet performance in the field. This study also showed the benefit of an AROTC program collaborating with human performance professionals to optimize Cadets' human performance capabilities.

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Impact of Marine Exposure on Hemostatic Gauzes Using Thromboelastography

George T, Jordan M, Bianchi W, Boboc M, Zarow GJ, Natarajan R, Walchak AC, Roszko PJ 19(1). 89 - 94 (Journal Article)

Background: Military forces render emergency care in marine environments, where care for exsanguination is challenging. However, the effect of saltwater on the functionality of hemostatic agents is unknown. In this study, we used thromboelastography (TEG) to quantify the effect of saltwater on the efficacy of five gauze products. Methods: Blood from 24 healthy adult men was diluted by 30% with hetastarch to mimic hemodilution. Dry and saltwater-soaked Kerlix™, ChitoGauze®, Combat Gauze®, NuStat™, and WoundClot™ were contrasted in terms of the TEG parameters of speed of clot initiation (R), clot amplification (K), α angle (i.e., clot formation rate), and maximum amplitude of clot (MA), using repeated-measures analysis of variance at the p < .05 statistical significance threshold. Results: Compared with untreated dilute blood, R was significantly faster when any dry or wet gauze was added, with the fastest R values recorded for Combat Gauze. K and α angle findings were mixed. MA was greater than diluted blood for dry hemostatic gauze, but in the wet condition, only the MA for Combat Gauze was significantly greater than that of diluted blood. Conclusion: Gauze products, wet or dry, improved clotting compared to diluted blood without gauze. Saltwater exposure did not significantly detract from this benefit. Our findings suggest that Combat Gauze may be the choice hemostatic gauze for maritime environments.

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Precision Performance Nutrition What Can Special Operations Forces Communities Expect?

Conkright W, Deuster PA 19(1). 107 - 112 (Journal Article)

Modern-day warfare and operational tempo require Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel to be ready and able to perform optimally on the battlefield at all times. To do this, US Special Operations Command has invested in high-performance training centers and human performance staff, including performance dietitians. Performance dietitians are critical, because it is widely recognized that nutrition affects all aspects of health and performance, particularly for the SOF Operator. These aspects include everything from physical and sensory to psychosocial and cognitive factors, as well as environmental exposures and genetic predispositions. The impact of nutrition on performance has been well established, with specific recommendations and position stands on fueling for athletics from multiple international organizations. However, sports nutrition guidelines are based on outcomes from sample means rather than individual changes in performance. Precision performance nutrition solutions must include a systems-based approach and consider the individuality of the Operator along with their interactions with their environment. The purpose of this article is to summarize what is known about performance nutrition and outline what can be done to move toward personalized precision nutrition. We discuss pitfalls and challenges with regard to mission-specific goals, optimization versus adaptation, and longitudinal tracking; and present our view of the future.

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Concepts of Prehospital Advanced Airway Management in the Operational K9: A Focus on Cricothyrotomy

Palmer LE 19(1). 99 - 106 (Journal Article)

Similar to people, airway obstruction is a potentially preventable cause of combat and line of duty death for civilian law enforcement Operational K9s (OpK9) and military working dogs (MWD). Basic (i.e., body positioning, manual maneuvers, bag-valve-mask ventilation) and advanced (i.e., endotracheal intubation, surgical airways) airway techniques are designed to establish a patent airway, oxygenate and ventilate, and protect from aspiration. A surgical airway (cricothyrotomy [CTT] or tracheostomy [TT]) is warranted for difficult airway scenarios in which less invasive means fail to open an airway (aka "Cannot intubate, cannot oxygenate"). In people, the surgical CTT is the preferred surgical airway procedure; most human prehospital providers are not even trained on the TT. Currently, only the TT is described in the veterinary literature as an emergent surgical airway for MWDs. This article describes the novel approach of instituting the surgical CTT for managing the canine difficult airway. The information provided is applicable to personnel operating within the US Special Operations Command as well as civilian tactical emergency medical services that may have the responsibility of providing medical care to an OpK9 or MWD.

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A Comparison of Two Chronic Skin Conditions: Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis

Conlon EG, Wright KT 19(1). 125 - 127 (Journal Article)

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) and psoriasis are two common chronic skin diseases that affect many people, including active- duty military Servicemembers and their families. Both conditions have significant psychosocial impacts and can lead to substantial morbidity if undiagnosed and left untreated. We compare and contrast atopic dermatitis and psoriasis in terms of epidemiology, etiology, presentation, diagnosis, and treatment. The goal is to help military medical providers distinguish between the two diseases and provide practical steps for treatment and long-term management.

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

Knapik JJ, Pope R, Hoedebecke SS, Schram B, Orr R 19(1). 113 - 124 (Journal Article)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a disorder involving the deterioration of articular cartilage and underlying bone and is associated with symptoms of pain and disability. In military personnel, the incidence of OA has increased between 2000 and 2012 and was the first or second leading cause of medical separations in this period. It has been suggested that consumption of chondroitin sulfate (CS) may reduce the pain and joint deterioration associated with OA. This article reports on a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of CS on reducing OA-related pain and joint deterioration. PubMed and Ovid Embase databases and other sources were searched to find randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials on the effects of orally consumed CS on pain and/or joint structure. The outcome measure was the standardized mean difference (SMD) which was the improvement in the placebo groups minus the improvement in the CS groups divided by the pooled standard deviation. There were 18 trials meeting the review criteria for pain with SMD -0.41, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) -0.57 to -0.25 (negative SMD favors CS). Six studies met the review criteria for joint space narrowing with SMD -0.30, 95% CI -0.61 to +0.00. Two studies meet the review criteria for cartilage volume with SMD -0.11, 95% CI -0.48 to +0.26. Larger dosages (1200mg/d) had greater pain reduction efficacy than lower dosages (≤ 1000mg/d). These data suggest that CS has small to moderate effectiveness in reducing OA-related pain but minimal effects on joint space narrowing and no effect on cartilage volume. It is important that clinicians recommend pharmaceutical-grade CS to their patients due to the variability in the amount of CS in dietary supplements purporting to contain CS.

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In the Neck and Not Out of the Woods

Dare C, Hampton K 19(1). 130 (Journal Article)

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Painful Scalp Nodules on an Active-Duty Sailor

Schmidgal EC, Wright KT 19(1). 128 - 129 (Journal Article)

Lesions of the scalp can present a challenging differential diagnosis to the primary care provider, especially in remote military settings where specialist care is not immediately available. Scalp lesions can be painful and disfiguring, and cause duty limitations if they interfere with the donning of personal protective equipment such as helmets, hardhats, or firefighting gear. We present a case of dissecting scalp cellulitis on an active- duty Navy Sailor who was leaving on an extended underway period on his ship the next day.

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Differential Diagnosis of an Unusual Snakebite Presentation in Benin: Dry Bite or Envenomation?

Benjamin JM, Chippaux J, Jackson K, Ashe S, Tamou-Sambo B, Massougbodji A, Akpakpa OC, Abo BN 19(2). 18 - 22 (Case Reports)

A 20-year-old man presented to a rural hospital in Bembéréké, northern Benin, after a witnessed bite from a small, dark snake to his left foot that occurred 3 hours earlier. The description of the snake was consistent with several neurotoxic elapids known to inhabit the area in addition to various species from at least 10 different genera of non-front-fanged colubroid (NFFC) venomous snakes. The presentation was consistent with the early signs of a neurotoxic snakebite as well as a sympathetic nervous system stress response. Diagnosis was further complicated by the presence of a makeshift tourniquet, which either could have been the cause of local signs and symptoms or a mechanical barrier delaying venom distribution and systemic effects until removal. Systemic envenomation did not develop after the removal of the constricting band, but significant local paresthesias persisted for longer than 24 hours and resolved after the administration of a placebo injection of normal saline in place of antivenom therapy. This was an unusual case of snakebite with persistent neuropathy despite an apparent lack of envenomation and a number of snakebite- specific variables that complicated the initial assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of the patient. This case presentation provides clinicians with an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the differential diagnosis and approach to a patient bitten by an unidentified snake, and it illustrates the importance of symptom progression as a pathognomonic sign during the early stages of a truly serious snake envenomation. Treatment should be based on clinical presentation and evolution of symptoms rather than on snake identification alone.

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Mottled, Blanching Skin Changes After Aggressive Diving

Lau AM, Johnston MJ, Rivard SS 19(2). 14 - 17 (Case Reports)

The initial livedo skin changes of cutis marmorata, also known as cutaneous decompression sickness (DCS), are transient in nature. Accordingly, early images of violaceous skin changes with variegated, marbled, or mottled appearance are rare, whereas later images of deep, erythematous, or violaceous skin changes are readily available. This case presents the opportunity to view the early skin changes characteristic of cutaneous DCS, which would likely manifest at Level I care in the setting of a diving injury during Special Operations missions in austere environments. The unique diving context also allows an overview of DCS in addition to a review of skin eruptions associated with various marine life. As diving is frequently used by Naval Special Warfare, topics presented in this case have significant relevance to Special Operations.

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Cypress Creek EMS Basic Tactical Operational Medical Support Course

Godbee DC 19(2). 34 - 39 (Journal Article)

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Use of Atomized Intranasal Tranexamic Acid as an Adjunctive Therapy in Difficult-to-Treat Epistaxis

Sarkar D, Martinez J 19(2). 23 - 28 (Case Reports)

There is a growing body of literature on the safe, effective use of tranexamic acid (TXA) for hemostasis in a variety of clinical settings. We present a case series of three patients with difficult-to-treat epistaxis where standard treatment methods were not effective. Using atomized intranasal TXA (ATXA) as part of a stepwise treatment approach, we were able to achieve hemostasis and manage all three cases independently, and we did so without major complications in our emergency department (ED). Given recent literature showing the underuse of TXA in combat casualties, ATXA, if formulated and delivered properly, may be of benefit for epistaxis and other significant hemorrhage cases. Further work must be done to elucidate the mechanism of action, specific dose, delivery method, use indications, and safety profile of ATXA.

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Best Tourniquet Holding and Strap Pulling Technique

Wall PL, Buising CM, Donovan S, McCarthy C, Smith K, Renner CH 19(2). 48 - 56 (Journal Article)

Background: Appropriate strap pressure before tightening-system use is an important aspect of nonelastic, limb tourniquet application. Methods: Using different two-handed techniques, the strap of the Generation 7 Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T7), Tactical Ratcheting Medical Tourniquet (Tac RMT), Tactical Mechanical Tourniquet (TMT), Parabelt, and Generation 3 SOF® Tactical Tourniquet-Wide (SOFTTW) was secured mid-thigh by 20 appliers blinded to pressure data and around a thigh-sized ballistic gel cylinder by gravity and 23.06kg. Results: Pulling only outward (90° to strap entering buckle) achieved the lowest secured pressures on thighs and gel. For appliers, the best holding location was above the buckle, and the best strap-pulling direction was tangential to the thigh or gel (0° to strap entering buckle). Preceding tangential pulling with outward pulling resulted in higher secured pressures on the gel but did not aid appliers. Appliers generally did not reach secured pressures achievable for their strength. Of 80 thigh applications per tourniquet, 77 C-A-T7, 41 Tac RMT, 35 TMT, 16 Parabelt, and 10 SOFTTW applications had secured pressures greater than 100mmHg. Conclusions: The default for best tourniquet strap-application technique is to hold above the buckle and pull the strap tangential to the limb at the buckle. Additionally, neither strength nor experience guarantees desirable strap pressures in the absence of pressure knowledge.

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Ease of Use of Emergency Tourniquets on Simulated Limbs of Infants: Deliberate Practice

Kragh JF, Wright-Aldossari B, Aden JK, Dubick MA 19(2). 41 - 47 (Journal Article)

Background: To investigate questions about application of emergency tourniquets in very young children, we investigated practices of Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) use on a simulated infant-sized limb to develop ways to improve readiness for caregiving. Methods: This study was conducted as investigations of C-A-Ts used by two individuals in deliberate practice. The practice setup simulating a limb of infants aged 3−5 months included a handrail (circumference, 5.25 in.). This setup needed a specific modification to the instructions for use to adhere the band between the clips. Each user performed 100 practices. Results: With accrual of experience, application time was shorter for each user, on average in a power law of practice, and more ease was associated when less time was taken to apply the tourniquet. The ease of use was associated with accrued experience through deliberate practice of a tourniquet user while under coached learning. A check of tourniquet fit on a 4.25-in. limb also entailed the modification used in the 5.25-in. limb. However, an additional modification of wrapping the band in a figure-8 pattern around the rod was needed because the rod and clip could not meet. The fit on a 3.25-in. limb was impracticable for a workaround. Tourniquet use was harder for smaller limbs (i.e., 4.25 in. and 3.25 in.). A map of tourniquet fit was sketched of which sized limbs were too big, too small, within the fit zone, or at its borders. Conclusion: C-A-Ts mechanically fit the simulated limbs of infants aged 3−5 months, and C-A-T use was practicably easy enough to allow experienced users to fit tourniquets to limbs well using a specific modification of the routine technique. The findings and knowledge generated in this study are available to inform researches and developments in best preparation practices for instructing first aid.

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The Use of the Abdominal Aortic and Junctional Tourniquet Versus Combat Gauze in a Porcine Hemicorporectomy Model

Schwartz RB, Shiver SA, Reynolds BZ, Lowry J, Holsten SB, Akers TW, Lyon M 19(2). 69 - 72 (Journal Article)

Background: Junctional hemorrhage is a potentially preventable cause of death. The Abdominal Aortic and Junctional Tourniquet (AAJT) compresses major vascular structures and arrests blood flow in exsanguinating hemorrhage. In a human model, the AAJT was effective in stopping blood flow in the femoral arteries via compression of the distal aorta. This study compares the ability of AAJT and Combat Gauze (CG) to stop hemorrhagic bleeding from a hemicorporectomy in a swine model. Method: Six anesthetized swine were used. Carotid arterial catheters were placed for continuous mean arterial pressure (MAP) readings. A hemicorporectomy was accomplished with a blade lever device by cutting the animal through both femoral heads transecting the proximal iliac arteries and veins. Hemorrhage control was attempted with the AAJT and regular Kerlix gauze or CG packing and direct pressure followed by Kerlix gauze placed over the CG. The primary outcome measure was survival at 60 minutes. Results: The 60-minute survival was 100% for the AAJT and 0% for the CG group. During the 60-minute monitoring period, only one CG animal achieved hemostasis. For the AAJT group, the mean time to hemostasis was 30 seconds. Initial MAP was higher in the AAJT group (mean, 87mmHg) than the CG group (mean, 70mmHg). The mean 60-minute MAP was 73mmHg for the AAJT group. Mean blood loss at 5 minutes and mean total blood loss were greater in the CG group than in the AAJT group. Conclusion: AAJT is superior to CG in controlling hemorrhage in a junctional wound in a swine model.

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Resilience and Suicide in Special Operations Forces: State of the Science via Integrative Review

Rocklein Kemplin K, Paun O, Godbee DC, Brandon JW 19(2). 57 - 66 (Journal Article)

Background: Due to alarming rates of suicide in Special Operations Forces (SOF) and associated effects of traumatic stress in military populations writ large, resilience initiatives thought to influence Servicemembers' mitigation of traumatic stress and thus lower suicide risks have been implemented throughout the services. Since combat operations commenced in multiple theaters of war nearly two decades ago, resilience in conventional military populations became a topic of keen interest throughout departments of defense worldwide as well. Despite researchers' consistent assertions that SOF are highly resilient and at low risk for suicide, granular analysis of pertinent research and escalating suicide in SOF reveals no empirical basis for those beliefs. Methods: We report findings from an integrative review of resilience research in SOF and larger military populations to contextualize and augment understanding of the phenomenon. Results: Throughout the literature, conceptual and operational definitions of resilience varied based on country, context, investigators, and military populations studied. We identified critical gaps in resilience knowledge in the military, specifically: Resilience has not been studied in SOF; resilience is not concretely established to reduce suicide risk or proven to improve mental health outcomes; resilience differs when applied as a psychological construct; resilience research is based on specific assumptions of what composes resilience, depending on methods of measurement; resilience studies in this population lack rigor; research methodologies and conflicting interests invite potential bias. Conclusion: This integrative review highlights emergent issues and repetitive themes throughout military resilience research: resilience program inefficacy, potential investigator bias, perpetuated assumptions, and failure to capture and appropriately analyze germane data. Because of overall inconsistency in military resilience research, studies have limited external validity, and cannot be applied beyond sampled populations. Resilience cannot be responsibly offered as a solution to mitigating posttraumatic stress disorder nor suicide without detailed study of both in SOF.

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