An Inventory of the Combat Medics' Aid Bag

Steven G. Schauer, Jason F. Naylor, Nguvan Uhaa, Michael D. April, Robert A. De Lorenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) recommends life-saving interventions; however, these interventions can only be implemented if military prehospital providers carry the necessary equipment to the injured casualty. Combat medics primarily use aid bags to transport medical materiels forward on the battlefield. We seek to assess combat medic materiel preparedness to employ TCCC-recommended interventions by inventorying active duty, combat medic aid bags. METHODS: We sought combat medics organic to combat arms units stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Medics volunteered to complete a demographic worksheet and have the contents of their aid bag photographed and inventoried. We spoke with medic unit leadership prior to their participation and asked that the medics bring their aid bags in the way they would pack for a combat mission. We categorized medic aid bag contents in the following manner: (1) hemorrhage control; (2) airway management; (3) pneumothorax treatment, or (4) volume resuscitation. We compared the items found in the aid bags against the contemporary TCCC guidelines. RESULTS: In January 2019, we prospectively inventoried 44 combat medic aid bags. Most of the medics were male (86%), in the grade of E4 (64%), and had no deployment experience (64%). More medics carried a commercial aid bag (55%) than used the standard issue M9 medical bag (45%). Overall, the most frequently carried medical device was an NPA (93%). Overall, 91% of medics carried at least one limb tourniquet, 2% carried a junctional tourniquet, 31% carried a supraglottic airway (SGA), 64% carried a cricothyrotomy setup/kit, 75% carried a chest seal, and 75% carried intravenous (IV) fluid. The most commonly stocked limb tourniquet was the C-A-T (88%), the airway kit was the H&H cricothyrotomy kit (38%), the chest injury set were prepackaged needle decompression kits (81%), and normal saline was the most frequently carried fluid (47%). Most medics carried a heating blanket (54%). CONCLUSIONS: Most medics carried materiels that address the common causes of preventable death on the battlefield. However, most materiels stowed in aid bags were not TCCC-preferred items. Moreover, there was a small subset of medics who were not prepared to handle the major causes of death on the battlefield based on the current state of their aid bag.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-64
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of special operations medicine : a peer reviewed journal for SOF medical professionals
Volume20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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