The History of First Aid in the Army


Modern Wars

In Vietnam, the problem facing soldiers and medical personnel was an undefined front. In Operation Desert Storm, the issue was the fastest moving front in history. In fact, the war raced through the desert at such a pace that medical teams couldn't keep up with it. Had there been more casualties of that conflict, it could have posed serious issues regarding medical care. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. But to prevent such a thing from happening again, the Army is researching portable hospitals that can be dropped out of a helicopter and quickly assembled to provide on-the-spot care to battle-wounded soldiers [source: History Channel].

Another way in which the immediate care given to wounded soldiers is improving is through the use of the Life Support for Trauma and Transport (LSTAT) stretcher. This high-tech gurney is like an emergency room on wheels, and when medics place a wounded soldier upon it, they can take advantage of its built-in oxygen generator, defibrillator, ventilator and critical life signs monitoring equipment. Research is also being conducted on something known as a Trauma Pod whereby a wounded soldier would be retrieved by an automated vehicle and transported to an unmanned pod where doctors working remotely could stabilize the patient and even perform robotic surgeries to save lives.

Until these pods are available, the Army has taken other types of computers into the field -- especially those that allow medics to begin creating a digital patient record in the field. Having such statistics travel with the wounded can save valuable minutes when they arrive at treatment facilities. The thinking in rendering first aid care has now switched from a focus on what used to be known as the "golden hour" to the "platinum 10 minutes," meaning that the faster medical care can be rendered to a wounded solider, the higher his or her likelihood for survival. That's a long way from the thinking that once left wounded soldiers untended on America's battlefields for days at a time.

To learn more about Army first aid, check out the next page.

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