Keep The Patient Moving


We are all well aware, in the last nine years, of the dedication, bravery, and fortitude our troops in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars have had, and continue to have. But we have a one dimensional concept when we hear of our wounded. We don’t take into context those “troops” that are now called into action to save the lives of the wounded from the battlefield, to the field hospital, to the transport, and to the chain of military hospitals on their journey home to the USA. The medical personnel from the corpsman on the battlefield, to the nurses, doctors, surgeons and orderlies … all have a hand in saving the lives of our wounded troops, and making them as comfortable as possible. Without these dedicated people of mercy our wounded troops would be filled with pain and misery, or would perish.

Which is why I was so pissed in the summer of 2008 when while in Germany then candidate Obama backed out of visiting Rammstein and Landstuhl US military bases where not only the wounded were being cared for, but also snubbing those ‘troops’ who care for the wounded, and those who keep both bases clicking like a finely oiled machine. This confirmed my doubts that Obama could measure-up as Commander in Chief over the fine men and women of the US military. But I digress …

Please take the time to read this excellent article by David Brown @ The Washington Post, and then go here to see a slide show that accompanies the article in order to appriciate and understand the scope of the ‘support’ our fighting men and women have in those whose mission it is to get them home:

[…] The U.S. military’s ability – not to mention its willingness – to take a critically ill soldier on the equivalent of a seven-hour elevator ride epitomizes an essential feature of the doctrine for treating war wounds in the 21st century:

Keep the patient moving.

In the civilian world, victims of car accidents and gunshots hope to get to a hospital that can save their life – and then stay there. The military strategy is pretty much the opposite – and is, paradoxically, part of the reason the care of soldiers wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been so successful.

In both those theaters, the military has placed a few extremely sophisticated hospitals very close to the battlefield. Within a few hours of being wounded, casualties can reach neurosurgeons, maxillofacial surgeons, interventional radiologists, ophthalmologists and intensivists – specialists that previously were farther “up-range” and days away.

Advanced care so close to the fight is feasible only if casualties don’t fill up the hospitals and prevent new ones from coming in. To keep that from happening, patients are moved within hours of being treated.

Typically, seriously wounded soldiers move from the “point of injury” to a combat support hospital and then to one of the sophisticated “Role 3” hospitals (of which Bagram is one of four in Afghanistan). If they’re hurt badly enough that they won’t be able to recover quickly in-country, they’re brought to Bagram, if they’re not already here.

This all takes place within two or three days of the wounding, with the patient getting surgery and resuscitation at each stop.

Five nights a week, evacuation flights leave the airfield here for Ramstein Air Base in southwestern Germany, where there’s been a U.S. military air base since World War II. They are then taken to a giant hospital in nearby Landstuhl for a few more days of treatment before flying home across the Atlantic. Many soldiers are back in the United States within five or six days of being wounded.

This strategy was devised after the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing, in which some of the wounded had to wait more than 12 hours to get surgery and aircrews did not have the expertise to care for them in transit. It works only if transport doesn’t alter or diminish the care soldiers are getting.

“The flight is squeezed in between surgeries, not the other way around,” said Col. Christian R. Benjamin, an Air Force physician and commander of the hospital in Bagram. “Continuity of care is not interrupted by pesky little things like moving the patients 10,000 miles.” […]

(Photo by Michael Yon with story here)

May I also recommend a book written by a friend of mine, Col. Susan Luz (married to George Luz Jr. whose father was an original member of the Band of Brothers Easy Company). “The Nightingale of Mosul” chronicles Susan’s personal journey from college to her deployment as a commanding Army nurse to a field hospital in the Iraq War during the surge.

3 thoughts on “Keep The Patient Moving”

  1. Compare this to all of those times Bush went to see our wounded. When asked if he did this without fanfare and that’s why the press didn’t know about it to report it, Bush replied that he did it without seeking attention, but the press knew about it. He was the president and every movement a president makes is known.
    An out of character, for him, nod to the prejudiced coverage of the msm.

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