Some special operations medics in Afghanistan now have a new device that helps save soldiers with the most common cause of preventable death in combat: a traumatic pelvic wound.
Unlike a hemorrhage in the arm or leg where a tourniquet can be used to shut off bleeding, there was no way until recently to do the same for wounds in the lower torso, which can kill a person in a matter of minutes.
It was “a noted capability gap on the battlefield: How do we treat bleeding where we can’t use tourniquets?” said John Croushorn, a former Army doctor.
After serving as a flight surgeon in Iraq, Croushorn and former combat medic Richard Schwartz devised an inflatable tourniquet that buckles around a victim’s abdomen, and when pumped with air becomes a wedge shape that puts about 80 pounds of pressure on the abdominal aorta, cutting off blood flow to the pelvis. Ted Westmoreland, a former medic with U.S. Army Special Operations, then helped devise the windlass that twists to tighten the device so it stays in place.
One person with minimal training can have it out of the bag and applied in about 60 seconds, and it doesn’t need to be done by a medic, Croushorn said, because the device doesn’t require precise positioning.
Interesting. I’m pretty rusty on my trauma care (we didn’t even have tourniquets in our aid kits when I was in), but this seems to address a major vulnerability. As it is, for many troops, the lower abdomen/pelvic area is one of the areas that is essentially unarmored, and simultaneously not easily treated for bleeding.