Military Healthcare on the Battlefield

The financial cost of WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars is in the trillions of dollars. The human cost is immeasurable.  As the years passed, our armed forces continued to be killed and wounded. Many service members that died in prior wars could have been saved if today’s military medicine and military healthcare professionals were available to them.

The breakthroughs in combat medicine have made this possible.  Care on the battlefield is better than ever before.  What is happening too is that soldiers are taking care of themselves and one another.   We have some of the best trained medics ever and they are heroes too.  There have been 170 combat medics who have lost their lives and many more have been wounded doing their job of saving the lives of others.

Military medicine including military field surgery and combat casualty care is the treatment of wounded soldiers in or near a combat area. Today’s military medicine is leading edge.  Combat medicine is focused on the “golden hour” involving the immediate infusion of drugs and antibiotics to prevent life-threatening systemic infections from bullets, explosives and shrapnel.  Additionally, steroids are used to minimize spinal cord injuries.  Military medical units are aggressive and mobilize on a major scale focused on this “golden hour” that can make the difference between life and death.  How quickly the wounded warrior can be stabilized medically and surgically determines his or her survival.  Surgical teams are now located closer to combat action.

Troops not only carry tourniquets but also some are built into their uniforms.  This same bandage can be changed to a pressure bandage to stop bleeding.  Bandages that are used are easier to open including the Asherman Chest Seal that includes gauze and a one-way value that lets air out of punctured lungs.  The wounded are moved on converted C-17 planes that are essentially intensive-care units that have nurses and ventilators and most service members arrive at a US military hospital within 72 hours of their wounds.

In the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars we have to thank combat medics medical corpsman, dedicated military physicians, military nurses and other military healthcare professionals for these remarkable strides in saving the lives of our wounded warriors. Our troops that would have perished in yesterday’s wars are returning home in spite of their devastating injuries. Medics and corpsmen are armed with the latest and greatest advances in military medicine technology as they emerge.

Military physicians and military nurses have served in every American war. Lessons have been learned and innovations developed by these military healthcare professionals.  Civilian medicine has benefitted from the wisdom that military healthcare professionals have acquired on the battlefield.