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Admission Forced Vital Capacity Adds a Predictive Physiologic Tool to Triage Patients Suffering Rib Fractures: A Prospective Observation Trial

Johnston LR, Nam JJ, Nissen AP, Sleeter JJ, Aden JK, Mills AF, Sams VG 99(5). 0 (Journal Article)

Background: Patients with rib fractures are at high risk for morbidity and mortality. This study prospectively examines bedside percent predicted forced vital capacity (% pFVC) in predicting complications for patients suffering multiple rib fractures. The authors hypothesize that increased % pFVC is associated with reduced pulmonary complications. Methods: Adult patients with ≥3 rib fractures admitted to a level I trauma center, without cervical spinal cord injury or severe traumatic brain injury, were consecutively enrolled. FVC was measured at admission and % pFVC values were calculated for each patient. Patient were grouped by % pFVC <30% (low), 30-49% (moderate), and ≥50% (high). Results: A total of 79 patients were enrolled. Percent pFVC groups were similar except for pneumothorax being most frequent in the low group (47.8% vs. 13.9% and 20.0%, p = .028). Pulmonary complications were infrequent and did not differ between groups (8.7% vs. 5.6% vs. 0%, p = .198). Discussion: Increased % pFVC was associated with reduced hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (LOS) and increased time to discharge to home. Percent pFVC should be used in addition to other factors to risk stratify patients with multiple rib fractures. Bedside spirometry is a simple tool that can help guide management in resource-limited settings, especially in large-scale combat operations. Conclusion: This study prospectively demonstrates that % pFVC at admission represents an objective physiologic assessment that can be used to identify patients likely to require an increased level of hospital care.

Improving Outcomes Associated with Prehospital Combat Airway Interventions: An Unrealized Opportunity

Schauer SG, Hudson IL, Fisher AD, Dion G, Long B, Blackburn MB, De Lorenzo RA, Shaw TA, April MD 99(5). 0 (Journal Article)

Background: Airway obstruction is the second leading cause of potentially survivable death on the battlefield. Assessing outcomes associated with airway interventions is important, and temporal trends can reflect the influence of training, technology, the system of care, and other factors. We assessed mortality among casualties undergoing prehospital airway intervention occurring over the course of combat operations during 2007-2019. Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of a previously described dataset from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry (DODTR). We included only casualties with documented placement of an endotracheal tube, cricothyrotomy, or supraglottic airway (SGA) in the prehospital setting. Results: Within the DODTR from January 2007 to December 2019, there were 25,849 adult encounters with documentation of any prehospital activity. Within that group, there were 251 documented cricothyrotomies, 1,147 documented intubations, and 35 documented supraglottic airways placed. Cricothyrotomy recipients had a median age of 25. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military personnel (35%), were injured by explosives (54%), had a median injury severity score (ISS) of 24, and 60% survived to hospital discharge. Intubation recipients had a median age of 24. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-NATO military personnel (37%), were injured by explosives (57%), had a median ISS of 18, and 76% survived to hospital discharge. SGA recipients had a median age of 28. Within this group, the largest proportion were non-NATO military (37%), were injured by firearms (48%), had a median ISS of 25, and 54% survived to hospital discharge. A downward trend existed in the quantity of all procedures performed during the study period. In both unadjusted and adjusted regression models, we identified no year-to-year differences in survival after prehospital cricothyrotomy or SGA placement. In the unadjusted and adjusted models, we noted a decrease in mortality during the 2007-2008 (odds ratio [OR] for death 0.47, 95% CI 0.26-0.86) and an increase from 2012-2013 (OR 2.10, 95% CI 1.09-4.05) for prehospital intubation. Conclusion: Mortality among combat casualties undergoing prehospital or emergency department airway interventions showed no sustained change during the study period. These findings suggest that advances in airway resuscitation are necessary to achieve mortality improvements in potentially survivable airway injuries in the prehospital setting.

Effectiveness of and Adherence to Triage Algorithms During Prehospital Response to Mass Casualty Incidents

Kamler JJ, Taube S, Koch EJ, Lauria MJ, Kue RC, Rush SC 99(5). 0 (Journal Article)

Mass casualty incidents (MCIs) can rapidly exhaust available resources and demand the prioritization of medical response efforts and materials. Principles of triage (i.e., sorting) from the 18th century have evolved into a number of modern-day triage algorithms designed to systematically train responders managing these chaotic events. We reviewed reports and studies of MCIs to determine the use and efficacy of triage algorithms. Despite efforts to standardize MCI responses and improve the triage process, studies and recent experience demonstrate that these methods have limited accuracy and are infrequently used.

Short Review of Journal Abstracts for Casualty Care 2020-2022

Pajuelo Castro JJ 99(5). 110 - 120 (Journal Article)

Where There's a War, There's a Way: A Brief Report on Tactical Combat Casualty Care Training in a Multinational Environment

Conyers K, Gillies AB, Sibley C, McMullen C, Remley MA, Wence S, Gurney J 99(5). 105 - 108 (Journal Article)

Background: With most combat deaths occurring in prehospital settings, the US Armed Forces focuses on life-threatening conditions at or near the point of injury. Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) guidelines are required for all US Servicemembers. Multinational militaries lack this requirement, and international partner forces often have limited prehospital medical training. Methods: From November 2019 to March 2020, military members assigned to the Role 2E at the Hamid Kazai International Airport (HKIA) North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) base conducted multinational TCCC training. The standardized Joint Trauma System (JTS) TCCC curriculum consisted of two-day classroom instruction and situational training exercises. Competency was assessed through verbalized and demonstrated knowledge. After Action Reviews (AAR) were completed. Results: Twelve multinational TCCC training courses trained 590 military Servicemembers and civilians from 10 countries, ranging from 16 to 62 participants (avg class size = 35). Portugal and Turkey represented the two largest participating nations with 219 and 133, respectively. Student feedback determined optimal group ratios for instruction. AARs were reviewed to categorize best practices. Conclusion: Multinational TCCC standardization will save lives. Most nations lack TCCC training requirements. Thus, providing opportunities for standardized training for HKIA residents helped established a multinational baseline of medical interoperability. Utilizing this curriculum in multinational environments can replicate these results. International adoption of TCCC is dynamic and ongoing and should be promulgated to reduce preventable deaths.

Association of Body Mass Index with Injuries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses Comparing Healthy Weight Military Service Members with Underweight, Overweight, and Obese

Knapik JJ, Hoedebecke SS 99(5). 97 - 103 (Journal Article)

Obesity is a worldwide health problem that has reached pandemic proportions. In the military, obesity and overweight are associated with health problems, attrition from military service, and reduced job performance. National and international organizations suggest body mass index (BMI) as a population screening tool to define overweight and obesity. BMI is calculated as weight/height2 (kg/m2). Four categories of adult BMI are underweight (<18.5 kg/m2), healthy weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2), overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2), and obese (≥30.0 kg/m2). This article reports on a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the association between BMI and injury risk among military service members (SMs). Studies were selected for review if they involved military personnel, were prospective or retrospective observational studies, and contained original quantitative data on injury risk at all four BMI levels. Nine studies met the review criteria. Pooled data from these investigations indicated that underweight, overweight, and obese individuals were at 1.17 (95% confidence interval [95%CI]=1.07-1.28), 1.03 (95%CI=1.01-1.06), and 1.15 (95%CI=1.11-1.20) times higher risk of injury than healthy weight individuals, respectively. Compared with healthy weight SMs, military personnel with both low and high BMI are at higher injury risk.

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever: A Refresher and Update for the SOF Provider

Klucher J, Gonzalez A, Shishido AA 99(5). 94 - 97 (Journal Article)

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is the most widespread tickborne virus causing human disease. CCHF wields a mortality rate up to 30% and was responsible for the death of a US Soldier in 2009. The virus is spread by the Hyalomma species of hard tick found across Central Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia south of the 50° parallel. Infection typically consists of a 1-7-day non-specific viral prodrome, followed by onset of hemorrhagic disease on days 7-10. Severe disease may cause thrombocytopenia, transaminitis, petechial hemorrhage, hematemesis, and death typically by day 10 of illness. Education and insect control are paramount to disease prevention. Treatment is predominantly supportive care, though evidence suggests a benefit of early ribavirin administration. CCHF has caused multiple nosocomial outbreaks, and therefore consideration should be given to safe transport and evacuation of infected and exposed patients. Given the wide area of distribution, transmissibility, innocuous arthropod vectors, and high mortality rate, it is imperative that Special Operations Forces (SOF) providers be aware of CCHF and the existing countermeasures.

Hydration: Tactical and Practical Strategies

Scott J, Linderman JR, Deuster PA 99(5). 89 - 92 (Journal Article)

Full-spectrum Human Performance Optimization (HPO) is essential for Special Operations Forces (SOF). Adequate hydration is essential to all aspects of performance (physical and cognitive) and recovery. Water losses occur as a result of physical activity and can increase further depending on clothing and environmental conditions. Without intentional and appropriate strategic hydration planning, Operators are at increased risk for degradation in performance and exertional heat illness. The purpose of this article is to highlight current best practices for maintaining hydration before, during, and after activity, while considering various environmental conditions. Effective leadership and planning are necessary for preparing Operators for successful military operations.

Combat Casualties Treated With Intranasal Ketamine for Prehospital Analgesia: A Case Series

Dubecq C, Montagnon R, Morand G, De Rocquigny G, Petit L, Peyrefitte S, Dubourg O, Pasquier P, Mahe P 99(5). 85 - 88 (Case Reports)

Optimal pain management is challenging in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), particularly in remote and austere settings. In these situations, appropriate treatment for prehospital analgesia can be limited or delayed due to the lack of intravenous access. Several guidelines suggest to implement intranasal (IN) analgesia in French Armed Forces for forward combat casualty care (Sauvetage au Combat), similar to the US TCCC. Four medical teams from the French Medical Military Service were deployed to the Middle East and Sahel from August 2017 to March 2019 and used IN ketamine for analgesia in 76 trauma patients, out of a total of 259 treated casualties. IN administration of ketamine 50mg appeared to be safe and effective, alone or in addition to other opioid analgesics. It also had minimal side effects and led to a reduction in the doses of ketamine and morphine used by the intravenous (IV) route. The French Military Medical Service supports current developments for personal devices delivering individual doses of IN ketamine. However, further studies are needed to analyze its efficacy and safety in combat zones.

Cold Weather Injury in a Special Operations Aviation Crew Member: A Case Report

Clerkin S, Carlson NT, Long B, Taylor DH, Bridwell R 99(5). 82 - 85 (Case Reports)

As arctic warfare becomes a center focus within Special Operations, cold weather injury looms as both a medical and operational threat. While cold weather injury can range from pernio to hemodynamically unstable systemic hypothermia, the more minor injuries are far more common. However, these present a challenge in austere medical care and can drastically impact mission capability. We present a case of a Special Operations crew chief with cold weather digital injury while at the Arctic Isolation Course in Alaska and his subsequent clinical course. Prevention remains the key for mitigating these injuries, while the decision to rewarm must be made with both medical and tactical factors in mind as refreezing incurs significant morbidity. Other components of prehospital treatment include active rewarming, ibuprofen, aloe vera, and pain control.

Approach to Handling Atypical Field Blood Transfusion Scenarios

Neading R, Scarborough T, O'Connell M, Leasiolagi J, Little M, Burgess J, Hargrove M, Goodfellow A, Scheiber C, Cap AP, Yazer MH 99(5). 76 - 81 (Journal Article)

Special Operations Forces (SOF) medical personnel have been at the forefront of administering blood products in the austere field medicine environment. These far-forward medical providers regularly treat patients and deliver blood transfusions in some of the world's most extreme environments with minimal resources. A multitude of questions have been raised on this topic based on the unique experiences of senior providers in this field. In this paper, we analyze the available literature and present the recommendations of several experts in transfusion medicine for managing atypical field transfusion scenarios.

Motion Analysis: An Objective Assessment of Special Operations Forces and Tactical Medics Performing Point-of-Care Ultrasound

Baribeau V, Murugappan K, Sharkey A, Lodico DN, Walsh DP, Lin DC, Wong VT, Weinstein J, Matyal R, Mahmood F, Mitchell JD 99(5). 70 - 76 (Journal Article)

Background: Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) is commonly employed to image the heart, lungs, and abdomen. Rapid ultrasound for shock and hypotension (RUSH) exams are a critical component of POCUS employed in austere environments by Special Operations Forces (SOF) and tactical medics for triage and diagnosis. Despite its utility, training for POCUS remains largely unstandardized with respect to feedback and markers of proficiency. We hypothesized that motion analysis could objectively identify improvement in medics' performance of RUSH exams. Furthermore, we predicted that motion metrics would correlate with qualitative ratings administered by attending anesthesiologists. Methods: A team of civilian and military attending anesthesiologists trained 24 medics in POCUS during a 5-day course. Each medic performed eight RUSH exams using an ultrasound probe equipped with an electromagnetic motion sensor to track total distance travelled (path length), movements performed (translational motions), degrees rotated (rotational sum), and time. Instructors (experts) observed and rated the exams on the following items: image finding, image fine-tuning, speed, final image accuracy, and global assessment. Motion metrics were used to provide feedback to medics throughout the course. Generalized estimating equations were used to analyze the trends of motion metrics across all trials. Correlations amongst motion metrics and expert ratings were assessed with Pearson correlation coefficients. Results: Participants exhibited a negative trend in all motion metrics (p < 0.001). Pearson correlation coefficients revealed moderate inverse correlations amongst motion metrics and expert ratings. Conclusion: Motion analysis was able to quantify and describe the performance of medics training in POCUS and correlated with expert ratings.

Emergency Reflex Action Drills and the Problem with Stress

Zink N, Merelman A, Fisher AD, Lauria MJ 99(5). 58 - 62 (Journal Article)

Clinicians involved in the care of critically ill patients are often exposed to demanding and stressful situations that require immediate action. Evidence suggests that human performance can be significantly diminished when multiple stressors and stimuli are present. Humans have developed conscious and unconscious methods of dealing with this type of cognitive overload in various high-risk occupations, but these coping methods have not necessarily been structured and adapted to the provision of emergency medical care. Emergency reflex action drills (ERADs) are derived from available evidence in specific domains (e.g., airway management) and develop automaticity of critical skills which engender quick, effective, and reproducible performance with minimal cognitive load. These are pre-planned, practiced responses to specific, high-demand and time-sensitive situations. This article outlines the psychological, cognitive, and behavioral effects of stress that affect performance and necessitate development of ERADs. It also reviews the scientific underpinnings behind how humans have adapted cognitive behavioral techniques to manage under high-stress situations. Finally, this article recommends the adoption of these cognitive tactics via ERADs to enhance clinical practice and provides an example in the context of airway management.

The Effect of Prehospital Blood Transfusion on Patient Body Temperature from the Time of Emergency Medical Services Transfusion to Arrival at the Emergency Department

Mannion E, Pirrallo RG, Dix A, Estes L 99(5). 50 - 57 (Journal Article)

Background: Transfusion of blood products is life-saving and time-sensitive in the setting of acute blood-loss anemia, and is increasingly common in the emergency medical services (EMS) setting. Prehospital blood products are generally "cold-stored" at 4°C, then warmed with a portable fluid-warming system for the purpose of preventing the "lethal triad" of hypothermia, acidosis, and coagulopathy. This study aims to evaluate body temperature changes of EMS patients receiving packed red blood cells (PRBC) and/or fresh frozen plasma (FFP) when using the LifeWarmer Quantum Blood & Fluid Warming System (LifeWarmer, Methods: From 1 January 2020 to 31 August 2021, patients who qualified for and received PRBC and/or FFP were retrospectively reviewed. Body-temperature homeostasis pre- and post-transfusion were evaluated with attention given to those who arrived to the emergency department (ED) hypothermic (<36°C). Results: For all 69 patients analyzed, the mean initial prehospital temperature (°C) was 36.5 ± 1.0, and the mean initial ED temperature was 36.7 ± 0.6, demonstrating no statically significant change in value pre- or post-transfusion (0.2 ± 0.8, p = .09). Shock index showed a statistically significant decrease following transfusion: 1.5 ± 0.5 to 0.9 ± 0.4 (p < .001). Conclusion: Use of the Quantum prevents the previously identified risk of hypothermia with respect to unwarmed prehospital transfusions. The data is favorable in that body temperature did not decrease in critically ill patients receiving cold-stored blood warmed during administration with the Quantum.

Epidemiology of Musculoskeletal Injuries Among Naval Special Warfare Personnel

Lovalekar M, Keenan KA, Bird M, Cruz DE, Beals K, Nindl BC 99(5). 36 - 42 (Journal Article)

Background: Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) are an important cause of morbidity in the military, especially among Special Forces. The aim of this analysis was to describe MSIs among two groups of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel-Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman (SWCC) Operators and Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) students. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we describe self-reported MSIs that occurred during a one-year period and the calculated financial costs of MSIs. Group comparisons were conducted using Fisher's exact tests and independent samples t tests. Results: Data were available for 142 SWCC Operators (26.9 ± 5.9 years, 1.8 ± 0.1 meters, 85.4 ± 10.4 kilograms) and 187 CQT students (22.8 ± 3.2 years, 1.8 ± 0.2 meters, 81.4 ± 8.9 kilograms). The one-year cumulative MSI incidence was significantly lower among SWCC Operators (21.1%) compared to CQT students (37.4%, p = 0.002). The most common anatomic location for MSIs was the lower extremity (SWCC: 50.0% of MSIs, CQT: 66.3%). Physical training was the predominant activity when MSIs occurred (SWCC: 31.6%, CQT: 77.6%). The lifetime cost of all the MSIs included in the analysis was approximately $580,000 among 142 SWCC Operators and $1.2 million among 187 CQT students. Conclusion: MSIs, especially those affecting the lower extremity and occurring during physical training, cause considerable morbidity and financial burden among NSW personnel. Many of the musculoskeletal injuries are to musculotendinous tissue, which typically results from tissue overload or inadequate recovery. Further investigation of the preventable causes of these MSIs and development of a customized, evidence-based MSI prevention program is required to reduce the burden of these MSIs.

A Systematic Review of Prehospital Combat Airway Management

Smith S, Liu M, Ball I, Meunier B, Hilsden R 99(5). 33 - 39 (Journal Article)

Medical leadership must decide how prehospital airways will be managed in a combat environment, and airway skills can be complicated and difficult to learn. Evidence informed airway strategies are essential. A search was conducted in Medline and EMBASE databases for prehospital combat airway use. The primary data of interest was what type of airway was used. Other data reviewed included: who performed the intervention and the success rate of the intervention. The search strategy produced 2,624 results, of which 18 were included in the final analysis. Endotracheal intubation, cricothyroidotomy, supraglottic airways, and nasopharyngeal airways have all been used in the prehospital combat environment. This review summarizes the entirety of the available combat literature such that commanders may make an evidence-based informed decision with respect to their airway management policies.

Threat Appraisal, Recovery Operations, and PTSD Symptoms Among US Air Force Rescue Personnel

Bryan CJ, Rush SC, Fuessel-Herrmann D, Bryan AO, Morrow CE, Haskell J, Jones MJ, Bowerfind C, Stephenson JA 99(5). 21 - 25 (Journal Article)

Background: Research among military personnel and veterans indicates that subjective appraisal of warzone stressors explains the relation of combat exposure to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but not the relation of exposure to injury and death to PTSD. Studies have primarily been limited to conventional forces using aggregate measures of warzone stressor exposure. Threat appraisal may play a different role in the emergence of PTSD among military personnel for whom dangerous deployment experiences are more closely associated with exposure to injury and death, such as US Air Force Pararescuemen and Combat Rescue officers. Materials and Methods: In a sample of 207 rescue personnel, correlations among various types of warzone stressor exposure, threat appraisal, and postdeployment PTSD symptoms were examined. Results: The relative strongest correlates of threat appraisal were stressors related to injury, death, and human remains. Although exposure to these stressors was also correlated with PTSD symptom severity, partial correlations of stressor exposure and PTSD symptoms were no longer significant when adjusting for threat appraisal. Conclusion: Results support the contributing role of threat appraisal to PTSD among military personnel whose primary duties entail exposure to injury and death under hostile and dangerous conditions.

Winter 2022 Journal (Vol 22 Ed 4)

Vol 22 Ed 4
Winter 2022 Journal of Special Operations Medicine
ISSN: 1553-9768

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Fall 2020 Journal (Vol 20 Ed 3)

Vol 20 Ed 3
Fall 2020 Journal of Special Operations Medicine
ISSN: 1553-9768

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Military Medical Evacuation After the Benghazi Embassy Attack: Implications for Military Support of Diplomatic Missions

Tekmal S, Lockett C, Long B, Schauer SG 22(4). 83 - 86 (Journal Article)

Background: The Department of State has the primary responsibility of diplomatic operations in foreign countries. The US military often supports these missions and, when needed, may be called upon to provide security in the event of changes in the host nation's government stability. The US military was requested to help evacuate the consulate in Benghazi after the attack on September 11, 2012. The medical requirements to support such a mission remain unclear, and data are lacking. We sought to describe the medical care required during this evacuation mission. Methods: This is a secondary analysis of a previously described dataset from the United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) Regulating Command & Control and Evacuation System (TRAC2ES) from 2008 to 2018, with a focus on cases involving the evacuation after the Libyan consulate attack in September 2012. Within our dataset, we isolated all cases of evacuation from the attack on US government facilities in Benghazi. We describe the available data within TRAC2ES, including the free text information placed by the initiating medical personnel. Results: We identified three cases of evacuations within TRAC2ES associated with the Benghazi consulate attack. All cases were evacuated from host nation hospitals to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) by military aircraft under urgent status. Case 1 was an adult male injured by an undocumented mechanism. He was found to be in severe shock, received four units of blood prior to transport, and was intubated. Case 2 was an adult male injured by an undocumented mechanism. He had documented smoke inhalation injury and was found to be coughing up black sputum. Case 3 was an adult male injured by an undocumented mechanism. He had a compound radial fracture with an external fixator in place and subsequently developed compartment syndrome. He was intubated prior to transport. Conclusions: Our case series focuses on the unique aspects of military support of diplomatic missions in countries lacking a stable government-specifically, what transpired in Benghazi. Such events showcase areas of potential collaboration between the Department of State and the Department of Defense in coordinating medical evacuations for casualties sustained during diplomatic missions.

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