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Optimizing Teamwork for Human Performance Teams: Strategies for Enhancing Team Effectiveness

Park GH, Lunasco T, Chamberlin RA, Deuster PA 20(4). 115 - 120 (Journal Article)

Human performance teams (HPTs) are highly capable and complex teams comprised of medical and performance professionals dedicated to supporting health and sustaining mission capabilities of the Special Operations Forces (SOF) warfighter community. As resources continue to be devoted to recruiting, hiring, and organizing HPTs, there is an increased need to support team-based capabilities, or their ability to work collaboratively and cooperatively across boundaries. In this article, we draw on existing evidence-based approaches to supporting team-based competencies to present a set of strategies designed to address barriers to cross-boundary teaming, catalyze innovation and precision of human performance optimization (HPO) service delivery, and maximize the impact of HPTs on warfighter medical and mission readiness. We begin by offering a conceptual paradigm shift that broadens the lens through which HPO intervention opportunities exist. We then explore how to promote a common understanding of the needs, performance demands, and occupational risks, which should clarify shared goals and targets for service delivery. We also discuss a refined strategy for hiring and recruiting members of HPTs, and finally, we propose opportunities for cultivating communication and collaboration across and within the HPO spectrum. By elevating HPT-based capabilities, the SOF community should be able to amplify the investment made in these invaluable resources.

Frostbite: Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Knapik JJ, Reynolds KL, Castellani JW 20(4). 123 - 135 (Journal Article)

Frostbite can occur during cold-weather operations when the temperature is <0°C (<32°F). When skin temperature is ≤-4°C (≤25°F), ice crystals form in the blood, causing mechanical damage, inflammation, thrombosis, and cellular death. Lower temperatures, higher wind speeds, and moisture exacerbate the process. The frozen part or area should not be rewarmed unless the patient can remain in a warm environment; repeated freeze/thaw cycles cause further injury. Treatment involves rapid rewarming in a warm, circulating water bath 37°C to 39°C (99°F-102°F) or, if this is not possible, then contact with another human body. Thrombolytics show promise in the early treatment of frostbite. In the field, the depth and severity of the injury can be determined with laser Doppler ultrasound devices or thermography. In hospital settings, bone scintigraphy with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) 2 to 4 days postinjury provides detailed information on the depth of the injury. Prevention is focused primarily on covering exposed skin with proper clothing and minimizing exposure to wind and moisture. The Generation III Extended Cold Weather Clothing System is an interchangeable 12-piece clothing ensemble designed for low temperatures and is compatible with other military systems. The Extreme Cold Vapor Barrier Boot has outer and inner layers composed of seamless rubber with wool insulation between, rated for low temperatures. The Generation 3 Modular Glove System consists of 11 different gloves and mitts with design features that assist in enhancing grip, aid in the use of mobile devices, and allow shooting firearms. Besides clothing, physical activity also increases body heat, reducing the risk of frostbite.

Sepsis Management in Prolonged Field Care: 28 October 2020

Rapp J, Keenan S, Taylor D, Rapp A, Turconi M, Maves R, Kavanaugh M, Makati D, Powell D, Loos PE, Sarkisian S, Sakhuja A, Mosely DS, Shackelford SA 20(4). 27 - 39 (Journal Article)

Effects of Donning and Wearing Personal Protective Equipment on Tourniquet Use and Conversion

Kragh JF, Le TD, Dubick MA 20(4). 40 - 46 (Journal Article)

Background: We sought to gather data about the effects of personal protective equipment (PPE) use on tourniquet interventions by preliminarily developing a way to simulate delay effects, particularly on time and blood loss. Such knowledge might aid readiness. Field calls to emergency departments may indicate donning of PPE before patient arrival. The purpose of this study was to investigate (1) delay effects of donning the PPE studied on field-tourniquet control of hemorrhage and (2) delay effects of wearing the PPE on application of a field tourniquet and its conversion to a pneumatic tourniquet. Methods: The experiment simulated 30 tests of nonpneumatic field tourniquet use ( -content). The research intervention was the use of PPE. Data were grouped. The control group had no PPE (PPE0). PPE1 and PPE2 groups had mostly improvised and off-the-shelf equipment, respectively. PPE1 included donning a coat, goggles, face covering, cap, booties, and gloves. PPE2 had analogous items. The group order was randomized. A test included paired trials: field tourniquet, followed by conversion. An investigator simulated the caregiver. A task trainer simulated a thigh amputation. Donning delays were evaluated as differences in mean times to stop bleeding compared with PPE0. Blood loss results from donning PPE were calculated as the delay multiplied by its bleeding rate, 500mL/min. Results: PPE0 had no delay: its mean blood loss was 392mL. PPE1 had 805mL more blood loss than PPE0 did. PPE2 exceeded PPE0 by 1004mL. Donning time (blood loss) for PPE1 and PPE2 were 1.4 minutes (712mL) and 1.7 minutes (863mL), respectively. The wearing of PPE did not slow down field tourniquet application or its conversion. Conclusions: How long it took to don PPE delayed the time to stop bleeding and increased blood loss, but wearing PPE slowed down neither field tourniquet application nor its conversion.

Battlefield Extracorporeal Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation for Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Feasibility Study During Military Exercises

Reva VA, Pochtarnik AA, Shelukhin DA, Skvortzov AE, Semenov EA, Emelyanov AA, Nosov AM, Demchenko KN, Reznik ON, Samokhvalov IM, DuBose JJ 20(4). 77 - 83 (Journal Article)

Purpose: To evaluate the feasibility of prehospital extracorporeal cardiopulmonary resuscitation (E-CPR) in the military exercise setting. Methods: Three 40kg Sus scrofa (wild swine) underwent controlled 35% blood loss and administration of potassium chloride to achieve cardiac arrest (CA). During CPR, initiated 1 minute after CA, the animals were transported to Role 1. Femoral vessels were cannulated, followed by E-CPR using a portable perfusion device. Crystalloid and blood transfusions were initiated, followed by tactical evacuation to Role 2 and 4-hour observation. Results: All animals developed sustained asystole. Chest compressions supported effective but gradually deteriorating blood circulation. Two animals underwent successful E-CPR, with restoration of perfusion pressure to 80mmHg (70-90mmHg) 25 and 23 minutes after the induction of CA. After transportation to Role 2, one animal developed abdominal compartment syndrome as a result of extensive (9L) fluid replacement. The other animal received a lower volume of crystalloids (4L), and no complications occurred. In the third animal, multiple attempts to cannulate arteries were unsuccessful because of spasm and hypotension. Open aortic cannulation enabled the circuit to commence. No return of spontaneous circulation was ultimately achieved in either of the remaining animals. Conclusion: Our study demonstrates both the potential feasibility of battlefield E-CPR and the evolving capability in the care of severey injured combat casualties.

Human Bocavirus as a Possible Contributor to Respiratory Disease in the Georgian Military Population

Akhvlediani N, Walls S, Latif NH, Markhvashvili N, Javakhishvili N, Mitaishvili N, Marliani D, Hering K, Washington MA 20(4). 100 - 103 (Journal Article)

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has demonstrated that new and devastating respiratory pathogens can emerge without warning. It is therefore imperative that Special Operations medical personnel be aware of the presence of emerging pathogens within their area of operation. Human bocavirus (HBoV) is a newly described member of a family of viruses known as the Parvovirinae that are often associated with acute respiratory illness. The presence of HBoV in the country of Georgia has not been previously reported. Nasal and throat swabs were collected from 95 symptomatic members of the Georgian military. HBoV was detected in 11 of them (12%). To our knowledge, this is the first report of HBoV infection in the country of Georgia. This finding may have a significant impact on members of the Special Operations community who train in Georgia as more data concerning the transmission, pathogenesis, and treatment of HBoV are accumulated and the role of HBoV in human disease is more clearly defined.

The Downrange Acoustic Toolbox: An Active Solution for Combat-Related Acute Acoustic Trauma

Lee JD, Bowley DM, Miles JA, Muzaffar J, Poole R, Orr LE 20(4). 104 - 111 (Journal Article)

Frontline military personnel are at high risk of acute acoustic trauma (AAT) caused by impulse noise, such as weapon firing or blast. This can result in anatomic disruption of the tympanic membrane and damage to the middle and inner ear, leading to conductive, sensorineural, or mixed hearing loss that may be temporary or permanent. AAT reduces warfighters' operational effectiveness and has implications for future quality of life. Hearing protection devices can mitigate AAT but are not completely protective. Novel therapeutic options now exist; therefore, identification of AAT as soon as possible from point of injury is vital to ensure optimal treatment and fulfillment of the duty of care. Early recognition and treatment of frontline AAT can maintain the deployed team's capabilities, avoid unnecessary case evacuation (CASEVAC), and raise awareness of military occupational AAT. This will help prioritize hearing preservation, maintain the fighting force, and ultimately retain personnel in service. The UK Defence hearWELL research collaboration has developed a frontline protocol for the assessment of AAT utilizing future-facing technology developed by the US Department of Defense: the Downrange Acoustic Toolbox (DAT). The DAT has been operationally deployed since 2019 and has successfully identified AAT requiring treatment, thereby improving casualties' hearing and reducing unnecessary repatriation.


Crecelius EM, Burnett MW 20(4). 121 - 122 (Journal Article)

Leptospirosis is caused by an infection with bacteria of the Leptospira species. These spirochetes are carried by a variety of wild and domestic animals. Humans can become infected with these bacteria; leptospirosis most commonly occurs in the tropics and subtropics. Military personnel are at risk of infection through deployment in the field.

Riverview Terrace Team: A Novel Special Operations Forces Medic Role Emerges at the Forefront of the Fight Against COVID-19

Valenzuela J, Harrison C, Barajas J, Johnston EE 20(4). 136 - 138 (Journal Article)

During the Spring 2020 COVID surge, a team primarily composed of SOF medics coalesces in New York City, rapidly establishes a field hospital within a large academic teaching hospital, then transitions to step-down and ICU care as institutional needs evolve. Empowered to work as RNs, by emergency decree, the SOF medics, remarkable performance supports the need to define a novel role within the civilian healthcare system for these valuable, highly experienced, and underused providers.

Case Series on 2g Tranexamic Acid Flush From the 75th Ranger Regiment Casualty Database

Androski CP, Bianchi W, Robinson DL, Zarow GJ, Moore CH, Deaton TG, Drew B, Gonzalez S, Knight RM 20(4). 85 - 91 (Journal Article)

Early tranexamic acid (TXA) administration for resuscitation of critically injured warfighters provides a mortality benefit. The 2019 Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) recommendations of a 1g drip over 10 minutes, followed by 1g drip over 8 hours, is intended to limit potential TXA side effects, including hypotension, seizures, and anaphylaxis. However, this slow and cumbersome TXA infusion protocol is difficult to execute in the tactical care environment. Additionally, the side effect cautions derive from studies of elderly or cardiothoracic surgery patients, not young healthy warfighters. Therefore, the 75th Ranger Regiment developed and implemented a 2g intravenous or intraosseous (IV/IO) TXA flush protocol. We report on the first six cases of this protocol in the history of the Regiment. After-action reports (AARs) revealed no incidences of post-TXA hypotension, seizures, or anaphylaxis. Combined, the results of this case series are encouraging and provide a foundation for larger studies to fully determine the safety of the novel 2g IV/IO TXA flush protocol toward preserving the lives of traumatically injured warfighters.

Far Forward Gaps in Hemorrhagic Shock and Prolonged Field Care: An Update of ALM Fluid Therapy for Field Use

Dobson GP, Letson HL 20(3). 128 - 134 (Journal Article)

Future expeditionary missions are expected to occur in more remote austere environments where combat medics and casualties may have to wait up to 7 days before resupply or safe evacuation. Currently, there is no effective fluid therapy for hemorrhagic shock (HS) at the point-of-injury and continuum-of-care over this extended period. We have been developing a small-volume IV or IO ALM therapy for noncompressible HS and have shown in preclinical models that it extends survival to 3 days, reduces abdominal bleeding by 60%, blunts inflammation, corrects coagulopathy, preserves platelet function, and prevents immunodeficiency. The ALM-survival phenotype is associated with an upregulation of the master genes of metabolism and mitochrondrial biogenesis in heart and brain and a downregulation in the periphery. Future translational studies will investigate the timing and nature of the "switch" and extend survival to 7 days. We will also discuss some of the controversies of ALM resuscitation in pigs, present our Systems Hypothesis of Trauma (SHOT), and discuss future clinical safety trials before field use.

Management of Critically Injured Burn Patients During an Open Ocean Parachute Rescue Mission

Staak BP, Petersen CD, Smith J, Hartman M, Rush SC 20(3). 135 - 140 (Journal Article)

Best practices and training for prolonged field care (PFC) are evolving. The New York Pararescue Team has used part task training, cadaver labs, clinical rotations, and a complicated sim lab to prepare for PFC missions including critical care. This report details an Atlantic Ocean nighttime parachute insertion to provide advanced burn care to two sailors with 50% and 60% body surface area burns. Medical mission planning included pack-out of ventilators, video laryngoscopes, medications, and 50 L of lactated Ringer's (LR). Over the course of 37 hours, the patients required high-volume resuscitation, analgesia, wound care, escharotomies, advanced airway and ventilator management, continuous sedation, telemedicine consultation, and complicated patient movement during evacuation. A debrief survey was obtained from the Operators highlighting recommendation for more clinical rotations and labs, missionspecific pack-outs, and tactical adjustments. This historic mission represents the most sophisticated PFC ever performed by PJs and serves to validate and share our approach to PFC.

Ketamine Use for Prolonged Field Care Reduces Supply Use

Hall AB, Morrow L, Dixon M 20(3). 120 - 121 (Journal Article)

This case describes the prolonged treatment of a 38-year-old man with a transpelvic gunshot wound requiring a diverting ostomy and cystostomy for damage control procedures with a comminuted acetabular and femoral head fracture. The team used a ketamine drip for prolonged field care over 48 hours. The benefit of using a ketamine drip included low supply requirement, excellent analgesia, and ease of administration, but side-effects included somnolence and atelectasis necessitating oxygen supplementation before evacuation.

A Case Series of Air Force Pararescue Long-Range Ocean Rescues

Mix JW, DeSoucy ES, Hilser A, Houser DJ, Mhayamaguru KM, Dorsch J, Gaither JB, Rush SC 20(3). 122 - 127 (Journal Article)

Background: US Air Force (USAF) pararescuemen (PJs) perform long-range ocean rescue missions for ill or injured civilians when advanced care and transport are not available. The purpose of this case series is to examine the details of these missions, review patient treatments and outcomes, and describe common tactics, techniques, and procedures for these missions. Methods: Cases in which the USAF PJs preformed long-range ocean rescue for critically ill or injured civilians between 2011 and 2018 were identified. Case information was obtained, including patient demographics, location, infiltration/exfiltration methods, diagnoses, treatments, duration of patient care, patient outcome, and lessons learned. Results: A total of 14 pararescue missions involving 22 civilians were identified for analysis. Of the 22 patients, 10 (45%) suffered burns, six (27%) had abdominal issues, four (18%) had musculoskeletal injuries, one had a traumatic brain injury, and one had a necrotizing soft-tissue infection. Medical care of these patients included intravenous fluid and blood product resuscitation, antibiotics, analgesics, airway management, and escharotomy. The median duration of patient care was 51 hours. Conclusion: This case series illustrates the complex transportation requirements, patient and gear logistical challenges, austere medicine, and prolonged field care (PFC) unique to USAF PJ open-water response.

Applications of the SOCOM Spiritual Fitness Scale: Program Development and Tailored Coaching for Optimized Performance

Alexander DW 20(3). 109 - 112 (Journal Article)

The SOCOM Spiritual Fitness Scale (SSFS) enables religious support teams and other spiritual fitness/performance (SF/SP) stakeholders in the Special Operations Forces community to reliably measure both "horizontal" and "vertical" dimensions of spirituality, as defined by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction on SF. The SSFS's three subscales relate to core attributes of SF/SP, which were identified through factor analysis during the iterations of the tool's development. The SSFS is capable of generating baseline assessments for research related to SF/SP. It is also capable of generating unique SF/SP profiles for individuals and groups, which can shape programs and inform tailored coaching for optimized performance.

Mouthguards for the Prevention of Orofacial Injuries in Military and Sports Activities: Part 2, Effectiveness of Mouthguard for Protection From Orofacial Injuries

Knapik JJ, Hoedebecke BL, Mitchener TA 20(3). 114 - 116 (Journal Article)

This is second of a two-part series on the history and effectiveness of mouthguards (MGs) for protection from orofacial injuries. MGs are hypothesized to reduce orofacial injuries by separating the upper and lower dentation, preventing tooth fractures, redistributing and absorbing the force of direct blows to the mouth, and separating teeth from soft tissue which helps prevent lacerations and bruises. The single study on MG use in military training found that when boil-and-bite MGs were required for four training activities, orofacial injury rates were reduced 56% compared with when MGs were required for just one training activity. A recent systematic review on the effectiveness of MGs for prevention of orofacial injuries included 23 studies involving MG users and nonusers and a wide variety of sports. For cohort studies that directly collected injury data, the risk of an orofacial injury was 2.33 times higher among MG nonusers (95% confidence interval, 1.59-3.44). More well-designed studies are needed on the effectiveness of MGs during military training. Despite some methodological limitations, the current data suggest that MGs can substantially reduce the risk of orofacial injuries in sport activities. MGs should be used in activities where there is a significant risk of orofacial injuries.

Improving Concussion Education: Consensus From the NCAA-Department of Defense Mind Matters Research & Education Grand Challenge

Kroshus E, Cameron KL, Coatsworth JD, D'Lauro C, Kim NJ, Lee KM, Register-Mihalik J, Milroy JJ, Roetert EP, Schmidt JD, Silvermann RD, Warmath D, Wayment HA, Hainline B 20(3). 88 - 95 (Journal Article)

Early disclosure of possible concussive symptoms has the potential to improve concussion-related clinical outcomes. The objective of the present consensus process was to provide useful and feasible recommendations for collegiate athletic departments and military service academy leaders about how to increase concussion symptom disclosure in their setting. Consensus was obtained using a modified Delphi process. Participants in the consensus process were grant awardees from the National Collegiate Athletic Association and Department of Defense Mind Matters Research & Education Grand Challenge and a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders from collegiate athletics and military service academies. The process included a combination of in-person meetings and anonymous online voting on iteratively modified recommendations for approaches to improve concussion symptom disclosure. Recommendations were rated in terms of their utility and feasibility in collegiate athletic and MSA settings with a priori thresholds for retaining, discarding, and revising statements. A total of 17 recommendations met thresholds for utility and feasibility and are grouped for discussion in five domains: (1) content of concussion education for athletes and MSA cadets, (2) dissemination and implementation of concussion education for athletes and military service academy cadets, (3) other stakeholder concussion education, (4) team and unit-level processes, and (5) organizational processes. Collectively, these recommendations provide a path forward for athletics departments and military service academies in terms of the behavioral health supports and institutional processes that are needed to increase early and honest disclosure of concussion symptoms and ultimately to improve clinical care outcomes.

Operational K9s in the COVID-19 World

Gray BO, St. George D, Cativo M, Tagore A, Ariyaprakai N, Palmer LE 20(3). 103 - 108 (Journal Article)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCov- 2) is hypothesized to have originated from a spillover event from an animal reservoir. This has raised many questions, with an important one being whether the widely disseminated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is transmissible to other animal species. SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted person to person. K9-to-human transmission, although theoretically possible via fomites, is considered minimal, if at all, and there have been no reported cases of K9-to-human transmission. Human-to-K9 transmission, although rare, seems more likely; however, in only one case has a K9 been suspected to have displayed symptoms of COVID-19. Preparation, decontamination, hand hygiene, and distancing remain the key factors in reducing transmission of the virus. The information presented is applicable to personnel operating within the military conventional and Special Operation Forces as well as civilian Tactical Emergency Medical Services communities who may have the responsibility of supporting an operational K9.

Prehospital Combat Wound Medication Pack Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan: A Department of Defense Trauma Registry Analysis

Schauer SG, Naylor JF, Ahmed YM, Maddry JK, April MD 20(3). 76 - 80 (Journal Article)

Background: The United States (US) military utilizes combat wound medication packs (CWMP) to provide analgesia and wound prophylaxis in casualties who are still able to fight. We compared characteristics of combat casualties receiving CWMP to those not receiving CWMP. We also describe the proportions of casualties with injury patterns consistent with Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guideline indications for CWMP use who received this intervention. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of Department of a Defense Trauma Registry (DODTR) dataset of US military personnel from January 2007 to August 2016. We searched for all subjects with documented use of at least one medication from the CWMP (acetaminophen, meloxicam, moxifloxacin). Results: Within our dataset, 11,665 casualties were US military Servicemembers. Overall, <1% (84) of our study population received the CWMP. The median age and mechanism of injuries were similar between CWMP nonrecipients versus recipients. Median composite injury scores were higher for nonrecipients than recipients (6 versus 4, P < .001). Proportions of casualties with injury patterns meeting TCCC guideline CWMP indications who received this intervention were low: gunshot wound, <1% (14 of 1805), tourniquet applied, <1% (11 of 1912), major amputation, <1% (5 of 803), and open fracture, <1% (10 of 2425). Based on serious injuries by body region, we had similar findings for the thorax (<1%; 3 of 1122), abdomen (<1%; 1 of 736), and extremities (<1%; 11 of 2699). Conclusions: Subjects receiving the CWMP were less severely injured compared to those who did not receive this intervention. The CWMP had very infrequent use among those casualties with injury patterns meeting indications specified in the TCCC Guidelines for use of this intervention.

Ketamine Administration by Special Operations Medical Personnel During Training Mishaps

Fisher AD, Schwartz DS, Petersen CD, Meyer SE, Thielemann JN, Redman TT, Rush SC 20(3). 81 - 86 (Journal Article)

Background: Opioids can have adverse effects on casualties in hemorrhagic shock. In 2014, the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) recommended the use of ketamine at the point of injury (POI). Despite these recommendations the adherence is moderate at best. Poor use may stem from a lack of access to use ketamine during training. The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is often in a unique position, they maintain narcotics for use during all training events and operations. The goal of this work is to demonstrate that ketamine is safe and effective in both training and operational environments. Methods: This was a retrospective, observational performance improvement project within United States Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command that included the US Army's 75th Ranger Regiment, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and US Air Force Pararescue. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate the doses per administration to include the interquartile range (IQR), standard deviation (SD) and the range of likely doses using a 95% confidence interval (CI). A Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare the mean pre-ketamine pain scores to the mean post-ketamine on a 0-to-10 pain scale. Results: From July 2010 to October 2017, there was a total of 34 patients; all were male. A total of 22 (64.7%) received intravenous ketamine and 12 (35.3%) received intramuscular ketamine and 8 (23.5%) received intranasal ketamine. The mean number of ketamine doses via all routes administered to patients was 1.88 (SD 1.094) and the mean total dose of all ketamine administration was 90.29mg (95% CI, 70.09-110.49). The mean initial dose of all ketamine administration was 47.35mg (95% CI, 38.52-56.18). The median preketamine pain scale for casualties was noted to be 8.0 (IQR 3) and the median post-ketamine pain scale was 0.0 (IQR 3). Conclusion: Ketamine appears to be safe and effective for use during military training accidents. Military units should consider allowing their medics to carry and use as needed.

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