Healing Heroes: Medical research proves vital on battlefield
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Researcher and Orthopedic Surgeon John Kragh doesn't have to look far for a reminder of the difference devices like the Combat Ready Clamp, or CRoC, make in the battlefield.
His friend, Corporal Jaime Smith, was one of 18 killed in the battle of Mogadishu portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down."
"Cpl. Jaime Smith, who I knew as Pvt. Smith, was shot in the groin and needed some sort of device. He didn't have this or anything quite like it and that was lethal for Cpl. Smith," Kragh said. "The areas that join the appendages with the trunk had become the most common cause of death on the battlefield that we thought was preventable."
Devices like The Truncal Tourniquet can help stop bleeding in areas where a regular tourniquet doesn't work. Research is happening at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, located right next to the San Antonio Military Medical Center, where they’re testing potentially lifesaving devices before they hit the battlefield.
Researchers are currently working on the Wireless Vital Signs Monitor
, a new portable lightweight wireless vital signs monitor using technology to help detect signs of trouble which may otherwise go unnoticed.
Those in the battlefield are currently monitoring seriously injured troops based only on blood oxygen level and heart rate.
"Our medics are going into battle with only a finger pulsox as their only diagnostic tool for basically taking care of these critical care patients," Combat Critical Care Engineering Jose Salinas said. "In the United States, if you are in a trauma situation and you have to be transported to a hospital, you get hooked up to a $15,000 monitor and it gives you a lot more information than what's currently available on the battlefield."
The wireless component can make the most of one medic.
"Any technology we can provide to that 68 Whiskey, medic, will definitely help improve patient care," Salinas said. “Now you have a medic with a receiving unit who can take care of multiple casualties."
Both the Truncal Tourniquet and Wireless Vital Signs Monitor have yet to be widely distributed and used on the warfront. The CroC comes with a price tag of $427, but the cost of training associated with the device makes it a big decision. From a researcher’s perspective, Kragh says it shouldn't be about the dollars, it's about what he says simply makes sense.
"The loss of any one of these casualties is very real. Corporal Smith had a family. He had buddies," Kragh said.
Even with the greatest advancements in technology and medicine, support from family and the community play vital roles in the healing process for wounded warriors.
Friday, we'll tell you about a place at Fort Sam Houston that's providing a home away from home for injured troops and their families.