Medical teams saving more troops; KIA rate half of WWII
The killed-in-action rate in the Iraq-Afghanistanwarsishalfwhatit was in World War II and a third less than Vietnam and Desert Storm, according to internal Pentagon documents that say battlefield medical teams are doing a better job of stabilizingthewoundedandgettingthem to doctors.
“We have better battlefield medicine,”Dr.WilliamWinkenwerderJr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, told The Washington TimesonJan.4.“Wearerevivingand resuscitating many, many more of our soldiers who would have died in previous conflicts.”
The improvement may be little solacetothefamiliesoftheAmerican troops who have died or been seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.ThePentagon,however, saysithasputinplaceafirst-ratesystem for saving life — and limb.
The briefing papers show the killed-in-actionrateis12.5percentfor thecurrentwarscomparedwith25.3 percent for World War II and 18.6 percent for Vietnam/Desert Storm. Dr. Winkenwerder, a trained internist, said the rate is based on the number of combatants who died of woundsbeforereachingatreatment center.Hesaidthestandardhasbeen the same for each war.
Dr. Winkenwerder ticked off a number of improvements. Medics now carry resuscitation gear. Each soldier and Marine, not just medics and Navy hospital corpsmen, are issued tourniquets to stop bleeding.
“We had anecdotal reports of ser- vice members who died, unfortunately, because there was no tourniquet available until the medic got there,” he said.
Medical teams have also worked onarrivingatthesceneofinjuries,in most cases caused by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED).
“It used to be the ‘golden hour,’ “ he said. “Now we are trying to get down to the ‘platinum 15’ because what kills so many people is hemorrhage, massive hemorrhage.”
Newwaysoftreatingthewounded emergedwiththecreationin2003of the Joint Theater Trauma System (JTTS). It involves a constant “lessons learned” data analysis designed to come up with better tactical medicine
Until JTTS, for example, doctors were sometimes missing footballtypeconcussionsthatoccurintroops impacted by an IED.
Dr. Winkenwerder said the “few thousand”medicalpersonnelinIraq isthesmallestinrecentwarsbecause many wounded and diseased personnelareflownoutofthecountryto hospitals in Germany and the U.S.