Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Before They Get to Us

Lives are being saved like never before in the War on Terror.  The IOTV (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) has armored plates that protect the thorax and abdomen.  There are side plates that protect the flanks.  I have personally seen how the ACH (Army Combat Helmet) has saved a life.  Despite these improvements in soldier protection, people still get hurt, and some die.  The two most common causes of death during this war are exsanguination (blood loss) and tension pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

Each of us has, attached to our IOTV, an IFAK (Improved First Aid Kit).  It is to be used on the person who owns the kit and nobody else.  The kit contains a tourniquet which can be applied by the injured soldier with one hand, gloves, tape, nasal airway, compression bandage, and Z-folded gauze impregnated with a substance that stops bleeding.  Everyone carries a second tourniquet in his left trouser leg pocket.

Contents of IFAK
When a group of soldiers goes on a mission, they are usually accompanied by a 68W (Patient Care Specialist).  This is the replacement MOS of the 91B, or Combat Medic.  This person has been to a 6 month program to learn advanced life support skills and carries a medic bag full of supplies.  Many soldiers have the "Combat Lifesaver" designation, and have attended a 3 day class to learn IV insertion, airway and bleeding control skills.

Anyone who has taken a civilian first aid course has been taught the ABCs - Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.  In the military, we stop bleeding first.  The 68W has the skills to decompress a collapsed lung in the field, as well.  The improved equipment, skills, and doctrine help soldiers to survive the trip to the FST.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author only, and not necessarily of the US Army or the US Government.  None of the information given is classified in nature.

1 comment:

  1. COl. Giles,

    Thank you sir first for your service and a great post pre-hospital life support.

    I am a senior in nursing school, about to graduate in December, and it is my mission to become as CRNA in the U.S. Army

    I am so glad I found this blog, to see a glimpse of what life is like with a FST.

    Thank you again for your service and I am looking forward to more postings.

    -Jeff. B SN, Shenandoah University