PERFORMING TACTICAL COMBAT CASUALTY CARE
a. Most combat deaths occur on the battlefield before the casualties reach a
MTF. Most of these deaths are inevitable (massive trauma, massive head injuries, and
so forth). However, some conditions such as bleeding from a wound on an extremity
(arm or leg), tension pneumothorax, and airway problems can be treated on the
battlefield. This treatment can be the difference between a combat death on the
battlefield and a recovering soldier in a MTF. It has been estimated that proper use of
self-aid and buddy-aid skills can reduce battlefield deaths by up to 15 percent (mostly
from methods to control bleeding from the extremities). Table 1-1 gives an estimated
breakdown of battlefield deaths.
b. In combat, the combat medic may not be able to reach the casualty in time to
save the casualty's life, especially if the casualty is losing a great deal of blood quickly.
The combat medic may even become a casualty and require aid himself. In such a
situation, quick self-aid (the injured soldier treating himself) or buddy-aid (the injured
soldier being treated by a fellow soldier) is needed. For example, over 2500 soldiers
died in Viet Nam caused by hemorrhage from extremity wounds even though the
soldiers had no other serious injuries. Proper application of pressure dressings and
tourniquets by fellow soldiers could have saved most of these casualties.
DEATHS CAUSED BY GROUND COMBAT
31%--Penetrating head trauma
25%--Surgically uncorrectable torso trauma
10%--Potentially correctable surgical trauma
9%--Exsanguination (bleeding) from extremity wounds
7%--Mutilating blast trauma
12%--Died of Wounds after being evacuated to a
facility (usually from infections and complications
Table 1-1. Estimated breakdown of battlefield deaths.