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An Observational Study Assessing Completion Time and Accuracy of Completing the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card by Combat Medic Trainees

Therien SP, Andrews JE, Nesbitt ME, Mabry RL 14(2). 38 - 45 (Journal Article)

Introduction: Prehospital care documentation is crucial to improving battlefield care outcomes. Developed by United States Army Ranger Special Operations Combat Medics (SOCMs), the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) is currently fielded to deployed units to record prehospital injury data. This study documents length of time and accuracy of U.S. Army Combat Medic trainees in completing the minimum preestablished required fields on the TCCC card, establishing a baseline for point-of-injury cards. Design and Methods: This was a prospective observational study in which U.S. Army combat medic trainees were timed while recording data on the TCCC card in both the classroom and simulated combat environment. We hypothesized that trainees could complete the TCCC card in less than 1 minute with 90% or greater accuracy. Results: We enrolled 728 U.S. Army Combat Medic trainees in the study during May-June 2011 at Fort Sam Houston, TX. We observed an average TCCC card completion time of less than 1 minute with greater than 90% accuracy in the unstressed classroom environment but an increase to nearly 2 minutes on average and a decrease to 85% accuracy in the simulated combat environment. Conclusion: Results imply that the TCCC card is well designed to quickly and accurately record prehospital combat injury information. Further investigation and future studies may compare other prehospital data collection methods with the TCCC card in terms of timely and accurate data collection.

Imaging Comparison of Pelvic Ring Disruption and Injury Reduction With Use of the Junctional Emergency Treatment Tool for Preinjury and Postinjury Pelvic Dimensions: A Cadaveric Study With Computed Tomography

Gary JL, Kumaravel M, Gates K, Burgess AR, Routt ML, Welch T, Podbielski JM, Beeler AM, Holcomb JB 14(4). 30 - 34 (Journal Article)

Objective: Complex dismounted blast injuries from (improvised) explosive devices have caused amputations of the lower extremities associated with open injuries to the pelvic ring, resulting in life-threatening hemorrhage from disruption of blood vessels near the pelvic ring. Provisional stabilization of the skeletal pelvis by circumferential pelvic compression provides stability for intrapelvic clots and reduces the volume of the pelvis, thereby limiting the amount of hemorrhage. The Junctional Emergency Treatment Tool™ (JETT™; North American Rescue Products, http://www.narescue .com) is a junctional hemorrhage control device developed to treat pelvic and lower extremity injuries sustained in high-energy trauma on the battlefield and in the civilian environment. Our purpose was to evaluate the compressive function of the JETT in the reduction of pelvic ring injuries in a cadaveric model. Methods: Radiographic comparison of pre (intact) and post pelvic ring disruption and injury was compared with radiographic measurements post reduction with the JETT device in two cadavers. The device's ability to reduce pelvic disruption and injury in a human cadaver model was assessed through measurements of the anteroposterior (AP) and transverse diameters obtained at the inlet and outlet of the pelvis. Results: Computed tomography (CT) scans demonstrated that JETT application effectively induced circumferential soft tissue compression that was evoked near anatomic reduction of the sacroiliac joint and symphysis pubis. Conclusions: The JETT is capable of effectively reducing an AP compression type III injury (APC III) pelvic ring disruption and injury by approximating the inlet and outlet dimensions toward predisruption measurements. Such a degree of reduction suggests that the JETT device may be suitable in the acute setting for provisional pelvic stabilization.

The Use of Dexamethasone in Support of High-Altitude Ground Operations and Physical Performance: Review of the Literature

O'Hara R, Serres J, Dodson W, Bruce W, Ordway J, Powell E, Wade M 14(4). 53 - 58 (Journal Article)

Objective: Military Special Operators (SOs) are exposed environmental conditions that can alter judgment and physical performance: uneven terrain, dryness of ambient air, reduction of air density, and a diminished partial pressure of oxygen. The primary purpose of this review was to determine the medical efficacy of dexamethasone as an intervention for the prevention and treatment of high-altitude illness. The secondary purpose was to determine its ability to maintain physical performance of SOs at high altitudes. Methods: A search of the literature from 1970 to 2014 was performed, locating 61 relevant articles, with 43 addressing the primary and secondary purposes of this literature review. Conclusions: The review indicates that dexamethasone is an effective prevention and treatment intervention for high-altitude illness. Commonly used dosages of either 2mg every 6 hours or 4mg every 12 hours can prevent high-altitude illnesses in adults. Currently in USSOCOM operations, there is an option to use 4mg every 6 hours (concurrently with acetazolamide 125mg bid) if ascending rapidly to or above 11,500 ft without time for acclimatization. Researchers also determined that acute exposure to high altitude, even in asymptomatic subjects, resulted in small cognitive deficits that could be reversed with dexamethasone. Dexamethasone may also help improve cognition and maximal aerobic capacity in SOs who are susceptible to high-altitude pulmonary edema.

Point Prevalence Survey for Tick-Borne Pathogens in Military Working Dogs, Shelter Animals, and Pet Populations in Northern Colombia

McCown ME, Alleman A, Sayler KA, Chandrashekar R, Thatcher B, Tyrrell P, Stillman B, Beall M, Barbet AF 14(4). 81 - 85 (Journal Article)

Background: Based on the high tick-borne pathogen results from a 2011 surveillance study in three Colombian cities, an in-depth point prevalence survey was conducted to determine the seroprevalence of tick-borne pathogens at a specific point in time in 70 working dogs, 101 shelter dogs, and 47 client-owned dogs in Barranquilla, Colombia. Results: Of the 218 serum samples, 163 (74%) were positive for Ehrlichia canis and 116 (53%) for Anaplasma platys. Exposure to tick-borne pathogens was highest in shelter and working dogs where more than 90% of the samples were seropositive or positive on polymerase chain reaction for one or more organisms as compared to 51% in client-owned animals. Conclusion: Surveillance for exposure to tickborne pathogens provides vital information necessary to protect and conserve the health of local humans and animals, deployed military service members, and working dogs in various parts of the world. This study and resultant data demonstrate the value of following a broadbased surveillance study with a more specific, focused analysis in an area of concern. This area's high levels of exposure warrant emphasis by medical planners and advisors on precautionary measures for military dogs, Special Operations Forces personnel, and the local public.

Embedded Fragment Removal and Wound Debridement in a Non-US Partner Force Soldier

McLeroy RD, Spelman S, Jacobson E, Gurney J, Keenan S, Powell D, Riesberg J, Pamplin JC 16(4). 114 - 116 (Journal Article)

Objective: Review application of telemedicine support for removal of fragment and wound management. Clinical context: Special Forces Operational Detachment- Alpha deployed in Central Command area of responsibility operating out of a small aid station ("house" phase of prolonged field care) Organic expertise: 18D Special Operations Combat medic Closest medical support: Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) surgeon located in another country; thus, all consults were either via telephone or over Secret Internet Protocol Router e-mail. Earliest evacuation: NA

Secondary Hypertension, Erythrocytosis, and Unilateral Renal Cystic Disease in a Submariner: A Case Report

Forbes AS, Yeo FE 16(4). 1 - 5 (Case Reports)

Erythrocytosis, or increased red blood cell mass, may be primary as in the case of polycythemia vera (PV), or secondary due to a variety of causes related to erythropoietin (EPO) secretion and hypoxia. Chronic pulmonary disease and certain EPO-secreting tumors should be addressed and excluded early during the course of evaluation for a patient presenting with increased red blood cell mass. Inclusion of the JAK2 V617F gene mutation in the recent World Health Organization criteria for the diagnosis of PV allows for facilitated diagnosis and guides therapy. EPO levels can be helpful in diagnosis and guiding therapy, but in the case of cystic renal diseases, EPO levels are often not elevated, creating diagnostic uncertainty. This report describes a case of symptoms directly attributable to erythrocytosis in the setting of negative JAK2 mutation and normal EPO levels. The subsequent discovery of a large cystic renal kidney and PV were the leading diagnostic considerations

Management of Anaphylaxis in an Austere or Operational Environment

Ellis BC, Brown SG 14(4). 1 - 5 (Case Reports)

We present a case report of a Special Operations Soldier who developed anaphylaxis as a consequence of a bee sting, resulting in compromise of the operation. We review the current literature as it relates to the pathophysiology of the disease process, its diagnosis, and its management. An evidence-based field treatment algorithm is suggested.

Management of Junctional Hemorrhage in Tactical Combat Casualty Care: TCCC Guidelines-Proposed Change 13-03

Kotwal RS, Butler FK, Gross K, Kheirabadi BS, Baer DG, Dubick MA, Rasmussen TE, Weber MA, Bailey JA 13(4). 85 - 93 (Journal Article)

The vast majority of combat casualties who die from their injuries do so prior to reaching a medical treatment facility. Although most of these deaths result from nonsurvivable injuries, efforts to mitigate combat deaths can still be directed toward primary prevention through modification of techniques, tactics, and procedures and secondary prevention through improvement and use of personal protective equipment. For deaths that result from potentially survivable injuries, mitigation efforts should be directed toward primary and secondary prevention as well as tertiary prevention through medical care with an emphasis toward prehospital care as dictated by the fact that the preponderance of casualties die in the prehospital environment. Since the majority of casualties with potentially survivable injuries died from hemorrhage, priority must be placed on interventions, procedures, and training that mitigate death from truncal, junctional, and extremity exsanguination. In response to this need, multiple novel and effective junctional tourniquets have recently been developed.

Review of Canine Deaths While in Service in US Civilian Law Enforcement (2002-2012)

Stojsih SE, Baker JL, Les CM, Bir CA 14(4). 86 - 91 (Journal Article)

Background: Working dogs have been proven effective in multiple military and law enforcement applications. Similar to their human counterparts, understanding mortality while still in service can help improve treatment of injuries, and improve equipment and training, to potentially reduce deaths. This is a retrospective study to characterize mortality of working dogs used in civilian law enforcement. Methods: Reported causes of death were gathered from two working dog and law enforcement officer memorial websites. Results: Of the 867 civilian law enforcement dogs reported to these memorial websites from 2002 to 2012 with reported causes of death while in service, the deaths of 318 were categorized as traumatic. The leading reported causes of traumatic death or euthanasia include trauma as a result of a vehicle strike, 25.8% (n = 82); heatstroke, 24.8% (n = 79); and penetrating ballistic trauma, 23.0% (n = 73). Conclusion: Although the information gathered was from online sources, this study casts some light on the risks that civilian law enforcement dogs undergo as part of the tasks to which they are assigned. These data underscore the need for a comprehensive database for this specialized population of working dogs to provide the robust, reliable data needed to develop prevention and treatment strategies for this valuable resource.

Sore Throat

Banting J, Meriano T 14(4). 124 - 128 (Journal Article)

The series objective is to review various clinical conditions/ presentations, including the latest evidence on management, and to dispel common myths. In the process, core knowledge and management principles are enhanced. A clinical case will be presented. Cases will be drawn from real life but phrased in a context that is applicable to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) or tactical emergency medical support (TEMS) environment. Details will be presented in such a way that the reader can follow along and identify how they would manage the case clinically depending on their experience and environment situation. Commentary will be provided by currently serving military medical technicians. The medics and author will draw on their SOF experience to communicate relevant clinical concepts pertinent to different operational environments including SOF and TEMS. Commentary and input from active special operations medical technicians will be part of the feature.

Portuguese 2nd Parachute Battalion

Ferreira B 16(4). 122 - 124 (Journal Article)

Regimented Techniques Facilitate a Rapid Ascent to Very High Altitude: A Controlled Study

Anglim AM, Boyd DW 12(2). 48 - 57 (Journal Article)

Objective: For travel to high altitudes, most experts advise a gradual ascent regimen to prevent acute mountain sickness (AMS). Such standard recommendations are applied to the general public. It is generally thought, however, that those whose work requires frequent rapid ascents, such as military personnel, porters and guides, often make these ascents without adequate preventive measures and then, experience significant morbidity and potential mortality due to AMS. The aim of this study were to demonstrate that the risk of rapid ascents can be mitigated if performed with adherence to a structured nutrition and hydration plan, carrying controlled loads, and taking specific prescribed rest periods during the ascent. Methods: This study used a randomized controlled trial of a group of Nepali porters, guides, and a Westerner with similar characteristics, all participating in their first ascent of the early Himalayan season. Data collected each day included oxygen saturation (SpO(2)), heart rate (HR), weight, and blood pressure (BP). Data was collected every 300 meters(m) (1,000 feet [ft]) and at the same time and altitude at each days end. Ascent profiles, age, gender, ethnic origin, altitude of residence and experience at altitude were also obtained. In four days, a control group of Nepali porters and a Sherpa guide and an equal number of Nepali porters and a Sherpa guide in an intervention group, (led by a Westerner) went from Kathmandu (1,300m), to the summit of Kala Pattar (5,640m), and Everest Base Camp (5,380m), averaging approximately 1,000m (3,500ft) gain a day in altitude, with no acclimatization rest days. During the rapid ascent from 4,300ft to 18,500ft, a regimented program was followed by the intervention group, while the control group ascended using their traditional methods as Nepali porters and Sherpa guides. Values are given as mean ± SE. T-test, ANOVA, and Mann-Whitney tests were used to compare variables. Results: Based on mean SpO(2) measurements on the summit of Kala Pattar at 5,640m (18,500ft), the intervention group had a SpO(2) of 79.5% ± 3.209 and the control group's mean SpO(2) was 74.5% ± 3.109 (ρ = .076). Importantly, two participants dropped out of the control group at 4,900m with SpO(2) scores of 77 and 71. The ANOVA results between the groups SpO(2) at 5,640m was significant at p ≥ .04. Mann Whitney U test results demonstrate a significant (U = 21.5, p = .04) difference in median SpO(2) levels between the intervention and the control groups. This indicates that employing a regimented program is vital to the objective of sustaining adequate SpO(2) levels and yielding a successful climb. The intervention group that followed the regimented nutrition, hydration, and rest period program performed physiologically superior to the control group, especially on the longest (10 hours), highest (5,640m), and greatest altitude gain (1,090m) day-despite resting for five minutes every 25 minutes of hiking. This was achieved with no acclimatization days, and each participant residing at low altitude. Conclusions: Participants who followed a structured nutrition, hydration plan, and adhered to prescribed rest periods, performed physiologically superior to the control group who did not. Two control group participants dropped out with poor physiological measurements. This aggressive ascent profile mirrors encountered work demands on military personnel, professional porters, and guides. The beneficial effect was significant and could provide superior methods to those whose duties require aggressive ascent profiles. The implications of frequent rest periods (10 minutes an hour), a high-carbohydrate diet, and at least 3,000ml of fluid a day appear to factually present a physiologically superior method to trekking at high to very-high altitudes. The health implications for trekkers to the Himalaya (or to any place at high altitude) by using a similar regimented program are that it may allow for an AMS-free, more enjoyable experience at altitude.

Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

Burnett MW 15(1). 128 - 129 (Journal Article)

Cutaneous leishmaniasis is the most common form of leishmaniasis, which also appears in mucosal and visceral forms. It is a disease found worldwide, caused by an intracellular protozoan parasite of which there are more than 20 different species. The disease is transmitted by the bite of an infected, female, phlebotomine sand fly, causing skin lesions that can appear weeks to years after a bite. A typical lesion will start out in a papular form, progressing to a nodular plaque and, eventually, to a persistent ulcerative lesion. Special Operations Forces medical providers should be aware of this disease, which must be in the differential diagnosis of a patient who has lived in endemic areas and who has a persistent skin lesion nonresponsive to typical therapies.


Burnett MW 14(4). 129 - 130 (Journal Article)

Chikungunya is a rapidly emerging infectious disease caused by a virus of the genus Alphavirus, family Togaviridae. Most commonly, patients have an acute onset of fever with often debilitating symmetric joint discomfort that can relapse months after the initial infection. This infection is typically transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito, vectors that also transmit dengue and yellow fever. Special Operations Forces Medical Providers should be aware of this disease, which is currently being diagnosed worldwide.

Operational Stressors on Physical Performance in Special Operators and Countermeasures to Improve Performance: A Review of the Literature

O'Hara R, Henry A, Serres J, Russell D, Locke R 14(1). 67 - 78 (Journal Article)

Objective: Military training in elite warfighters (e.g., U.S. Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and U.S. Air Force Battlefield Airmen) is challenging and requires mental and physical capabilities that are akin to that of professional athletes. However, unlike professional athletes, the competitive arena is the battlefield, with winning and losing replaced by either life or death. The rigors of both physical training and prolonged deployments without adequate rest and food intake can compromise physical performance. Therefore, the primary purpose of this effort was to identify occupational stressors on the physical performance of Special Operators during training and while on missions. The secondary purpose was to suggest specific countermeasures to reduce or prevent significant decrements in physical performance and reduce musculoskeletal injuries. Methods: A search of the literature for 2000-2012 was performed using the Air Force Institute of Technology search engines (i.e., PubMed and ProQuest). There were 29 articles located and selected that specifically addressed the primary and secondary purposes of this literature review. The remaining 32 of 61 referenced articles were reviewed after initial review of the primary literature. Conclusions: This review indicates that operational stress (e.g., negative energy balance, high-energy expenditure, sleep deprivation, environmental extremes, heavy load carriage, etc.) associated with rigorous training and sustained operations negatively affects hormonal levels, lean muscle mass, and physical performance of Special Operators. The number of musculoskeletal injuries also increases as a result of these stressors. Commanders may use simple field tests to assess physical decrements before and during deployment to effectively plan for missions. Specific countermeasures for these known decrements are lacking in the scientific literature. Therefore, future researchers should focus on studying specific physical training programs, equipment, and other methods to minimize the effects of operational stress and reduce recovery time. These countermeasures could prevent mission mishaps and may save the lives of Special Operators during severe operational stress.

Unforeseen Risk: Leptospirosis and the U.S. Special Operations Community

Grambusch DM, Hoedebecke KL 12(3). 36 - 42 (Journal Article)

Leptospirosis is a bacterial zoonosis with worldwide distribution and is potentially lethal to those infected if left untreated. Due to the global posture of the U.S. Special Operations community, there is a seemingly perfect overlap of the regions in which they deploy and areas with concurrent endemic leptospirosis infection. Furthermore, Special Operations Forces (SOF) personel are known for working by, with, and through the host nation defense force, who tend to be commonly affected and often serve as a reservoir for this infection. Other risk factors including the usage of infected military working dogs, contaminated training sites, and certain recreational activities associated with water increase the danger of exposure for this cohort. Due to this increased risk of leptospirosis by U.S. Special Operations service members, medical providers within this community must understand and utilize proper preventive medicine, prophylaxis, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment for this potentially lethal infection.

A Case Study of MEDCANGRO Relative to RAND Conceptual Framework*

Scott A, Hogan R 15(2). 123 - 131 (Journal Article)

The 2010 Department of Defense (DoD) Instruction 6000.16, Military Health Support for Stability Operations, established medical stability operations as a core military mission. National military leaders appreciated that to better manage risks for US military personnel operating in far forward locations, reduce cost and footprint requirements for operations, and aid partner nations with providing service to relevant populations in underserviced/undergoverned the US military would need to be employed strategically in efforts to build partner nation medical capacity. Medical Stability Operations has evolved into Global Health Engagement in the lexicon of planners but the goal is still the same. This article used a technical report authored by the RAND Corporation as the basis of a case study of a Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAF) Mission to the country of Niger to build a casualty evacuation capability. The case study evaluates the utility of a hypothetical framework developed by the RAND researchers relative to the actual events and outcomes of an actual mission. The principal finding is that the RAND technical report is of value to planners, Operators, and trainers as a systematic approach to successful building partner capacity in health (BPC-H) missions. The article also offers several examples of metrics that aid leadership in making better decisions as to when corrective actions might be required.

Detection of Increased Intracranial Pressure by Ultrasound

Hightower S, Chin EJ, Heiner JD 12(3). 19 - 22 (Journal Article)

Increases in intracranial pressure (ICP) may damage the brain by compression of its structures or restriction of its blood flow, and medical providers my encounter elevated ICP in conventional and non-conventional medical settings. Early identification of elevated ICP is critical to ensuring timely and appropriate management. However, few diagnostic methods are available for detecting increased ICP in an acutely ill patient, which can be performed quickly and noninvasively at the bedside. The optic nerve sheath is a continuation of the dura mater of the central nervous system and can be viewed by ocular ultrasound. Pressure changes within the intracranial cavity affect the diameter of the optic nerve sheath. Data acquired from multiple clinical settings suggest that millimetric increases in the optic nerve sheath diameter detected via ocular ultrasound correlate with increasing levels of ICP. In this review, we discuss the use of ocular ultrasound to evaluate for the presence of elevated ICP via assessment of optic nerve sheath diameter, and describe critical aspects of this valuable diagnostic procedure. Ultrasound is increasingly becoming a medical fixture in the modern battlefield where other diagnostic modalities can be unavailable or impractical to employ. As Special Forces and other austere medical providers become increasingly familiar with ultrasound, ocular ultrasound for the assessment of increased intracranial pressure may help optimize their ability to provide the most effective medical management for their patients.

Redefining Technical Rescue and Casualty Care for SOF: Part 1

McKay SD, Johnston J, Callaway DW 12(4). 86 - 93 (Journal Article)

Trauma care in the tactical environment is complex; it requires a unique blend of situational awareness, foresight, medical skill, multitasking, and physical strength. Rescue is a critical, but often over-looked, component of nearly all tactical trauma casualty management. Successful fullspectrum casualty management requires proficiency in four areas: casualty access, assessment, stabilization, and extraction. When complex rescue situations arise (casualty removal from roof tops, mountain terrain, collapsed structures, wells, or a karez), casualty care often becomes further complicated. Special Operations units have historically looked to civilian technical rescue techniques and equipment to fill this "rescue gap." Similar to the evolution of pre-hospital military medicine from civilian guidelines (e.g. Advanced Trauma Life Support) (ATLS)) to an evidence-based, tactical-specific guideline (Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC)), an evolution is required within the rescue paradigm. This shift from civilian-based technical rescue guidelines towards an Operational Rescue™ capability allows tactical variables such as minimal equipment, low light/night vision goggles (NVG) considerations, enemy threats, and variable evacuation times to permeate through the individual rescue skill set. Just as with TCCC, in which the principles of casualty care remain consistent, the practices must be adapted to end-users environment, so it is with rescue.

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