New battlefield medical treatment program saves lives

By Tom Nordlie • Published: November 25th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

On the battlefield, wounded soldiers may live or die depending on how fast they receive medical treatment.

It’s believed that 90 percent of combat-related deaths occur before injured personnel arrive at medical facilities.

Field medics usually provide initial treatment for life-threatening situations.

But sometimes there aren’t enough medics to go around.

So the U.S. military has been experimenting with a new approach … and it seems to be working.

The idea is to train all combat personnel in several aspects of emergency medical response. The program is called Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or T.C.C.C.

The program is based on the rationale that anyone on the battlefield could encounter a casualty, and that there’s no sense waiting for someone else to help.

In the program, soldiers focus on three critical issues — blood loss, airway obstruction and collapsed lungs.

A study published in the journal Archives of General Surgery evaluated the program’s effectiveness during a period of almost nine years.

The study focused on the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and its activities in Afghanistan and Iraq. The regiment was the only U.S. military unit that trained all personnel in casualty care protocols.

The results showed that in more than 8,000 combat missions the regiment’s death rate from potentially survivable combat injuries was only 3 percent. That’s far lower than the 24 percent death rate for personnel that didn’t receive this training.

So, if the program works, perhaps it should be more widely employed.

After all, the men and women who safeguard America’s freedom deserve first-class support.

And increasing the chances they survive a combat injury is one of the best ways the rest of us can say “Thank you.”