Saturday, August 21, 2010
It’s been a busy week, as the medics of our unit have been focusing on the current Army standards for battlefield care aka TC3 (Tactical Casualty Combat Care). For those of us who’ve had a decade or more in, the changes are radical. Previous care focused on ABC, or Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Neck stabilization, spineboards, and multi-step bandaging protocols were the standard. Nearly a decade of combat experience later, we’ve gone to HABC, in which the most important item is H for Hemorrhage. Meaning in a combat environment, the tourniquet is now applied immediately to bleeds, or hemostatic agents in areas where a tourniquet isn’t achievable. When I got in, the tourniquet was considered the method of last resort, and it was assumed the limb was beyond salvage. Now every soldier is issued an individual tourniquet in the IFAK, along with a hemostatic combat gauze, NPA, and a few other useful items. I’ve carried the CAT in my bike’s saddlebags ever since driving past a point where shortly before a fellow rally attendee bled out from a near amputation of his leg received in a collision. Based on what I’ve seen lately, I’ll be adding a few more when I get back, along with some packets of combat gauze and a few other items. I’ve found from recent experience that one can put everything needed to stop an arterial bleed effectively within the space occupied by a 20 oz bottle of soda. I’m willing to sacrifice a little bag space for that kind of effectiveness in an accident.
We’ve spent this entire week familiarizing with application, equipment limitations, and assessment protocols during a heat index of 105 degrees, in body armor. For our final skill assessment today, it was trauma lane lasting over an hour in a heat index of 116 degrees. While every medic passed this assessment, we lost one immediately after as a heat casualty. Due to policy, he won’t be going to Afghanistan with his unit now; it’s back to home station for him, until the next round of call-ups. There’s little doubt that by the time this battalion’s medics reach Afghanistan, they’ll be ready to meet the challenges of combat medicine.