|SSG Dennull and SGT York|
|SGT York runs a lab test|
When the FST gets a trauma victim, the lab really shows their stuff. As soon as a casualty arrives in the ATLS section, at least 2 large bore (16g) IVs are started and a blood sample is drawn and sent to the lab for a "trauma panel." This checks the blood for electrolytes, blood gases, clotting factors, and red blood cell concentration. This gives us information as to how much blood has been lost, whether or not the blood has the ability to clot, and how well we are ventilating the patient. The lab also checks for the patient's ABO/RH (blood type). This information is on the patient's dog tags, but we don't trust it.
|Type O Packed Red Blood Cells from the Red Cross|
|Fresh Frozen Plasma|
If it looks as if we are going to need many units of blood, we activate the "Walking Blood Bank." The lab maintains a list of soldiers on the FOB who have consented to being blood donors when needed. These persons can be called at a moment's notice when their blood type is required for a casualty. They have been prescreened for HIV, hepatitis, ABO/RH, antibodies, and RPR. The lab folks just take a unit and run it back to us. This blood is type-specific, meaning that it is the same blood type as the patient. It is still warm when we administer it! Whole blood is the best at carrying oxygen and clotting. Many lives have been saved this way.
When to activate the Walking Blood Bank is a tough decision. We need to make the call early, as it will take at least 45 minutes to get the first unit. How many units to ask for is a hard call, as well. We want to only take what is needed, since the donor will not be able to give again for 56 days. Some blood types are rare. We only have 10 donors who are type AB Positive, for instance.
The database of screened blood donors currently has approximately 350 soldiers. Another 450 have been prescreened, and will be added to the database as soon as they are approved by the lab at Bagram.
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.