Attrition: Another Medical Miracle

Only the medics got packets (usually two) of Woundstat powder. That’s because this is only needed for deep wounds and has a theoretical risk of causing fatal clots if it gets into the bloodstream. WoundStat was but one of many new medical tools for battlefield medicine that greatly increased the effectiveness of the immediate (within minutes or seconds after getting hit) medical care for troops. This effort consisted of three programs. First, there was the development of new medical tools and treatments that troops could be quickly and safely be taught to use. This included stuff like HemCon. Then came the equipping of medics (about one for every 30 or so combat troops) with more powerful tools, so that troops were less likely to bleed to death or suffocate from certain types of wounds that are not fatal if treated quickly enough. Finally, there was the Combat Lifesaver program, which more than tripled the number of “medics” by putting selected soldiers through a 40 hour CLS (Combat Lifesaver) course in the most common medical procedures soldiers can perform to deal with the most dangerous types of wounds usually encountered. These CLS trained soldiers are not medics, of course, but they do make available in combat crucial medical treatments. Thus they are sort of “medics lite,” which is close enough if you are badly wounded and in need of some prompt medical treatment. During the last two centuries major wars have tended to produce significant improvements in medical care. This is what has happened since September 11, 2001 but in a much accelerated fashion. For example, since 2001, over two million American troops went off to war and about two percent of them were killed or wounded. Only 12 percent of the 57,000 combat zone injuries were fatal, the lowest percentage in military history. This was largely due to major improvements in dealing with rapid blood loss (as when a major artery is severed) and the increased speed with which complex medical care could be delivered to wounded troops. New medical technologies also made it possible to detect injuries (like brain trauma) that, in the past, was very difficult to detect and treat. The Combat Lifesaver course teaches the troops how to do things like insert breathing tubes and other emergency surgical procedures to restore breathing.
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