TREATING PENETRATING CHEST TRAUMA AND
DECOMPRESSING A TENSION PNEUMOTHORAX
Treat a simulated casualty with penetrating chest trauma, including decompressing a
tension pneumothorax as necessary.
Given a simulated conscious or unconscious casualty and a combat lifesaver medical
Score a GO on the performance checklist.
Additional injuries to the casualty are prevented.
STP 21-1-SMCT, Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks: Skill Level 1.
FM 4-25.11, First Aid.
Section I. TREATING AN OPEN CHEST WOUND
The body has two lungs. Each lung is enclosed in a separate airtight area within
the chest. If an object punctures the chest wall and allows air to get into one of these
areas, the lung within that area cannot fully expand and begins to collapse. In order for
both lungs to collapse, both sides of the chest would have to be punctured. Any degree
of collapse, however, interferes with the casualty's ability to breathe and reduces the
amount of oxygen available for the body to use. Figure 4-1 shows a normal chest and
lungs. Figure 4-2 shows a chest and lungs with a penetrating (open) chest wound that
has allowed one of the lungs to collapse. The lung does not collapse immediately, but
does so gradually as air enters the chest cavity and remains.