30 November 2010

The strategy of modern aeromedical evacuations

If you haven't seen it yet, this is another in a series of excellent articles about aeromedical evacuations from the Washington Post. This one covers the strategy behind (and the logistics involved in) moving even the most critically Wounded Warriors from theater as quickly as possible.

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.

This report also follows the fate of one critically injured Warrior who didn't make it all the way home. Make sure to view the accompanying photo gallery.

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