Honoring our Brave Through Medicine


Yes, I know it’s Tuesday. I hope that everyone had a wonderful day with their families and friends celebrating the brave who have given their lives to provide us with a safe, free lifestyle.

Yesterday we celebrated the freedom that was earned on the backs of these brave soldiers, today we discuss the advances in medicine that were gained in an effort to save the mortally wounded. Their sacrifice helped our country and helped many others through advances in medicine.

According to Webster, Ambulance descends from the French “hôpital ambulant” meaning Moving Hospital. The word was first recognized in 1809 during the Napoleonic wars. These carts were used to bring the war injured to the back to receive limited medical care. |It was this origin in war that has helped us gain much of the knowledge that we use to help everyone.

Even the National Ski Patrol has strong ties to war with the NSP used to recruit members for the 10th Mountain Division during WWII. These soldiers would use skis to traverse through the mountains, but were also taught first aid to help others. Upon their return many became innovators in the skiing industry.

For all of the atrocities that were done during WWII, the Nazi’s conducted many medical experiments on prisoners. While much of the research was ignored due to it’s disgusting method of research, some of the data has helped us move into more human efforts at research. The book “Was God on Vacation” was written by Jack Van Der Geest and described some of the experiments conducted on him. I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Van Der Geest and his views and book led to a whole new view of medicine.

Most of our routine prehospital care has its foundations in wartime care. Splinting, direct pressure to bleeding, IV fluid administration, even some of the foundations of CPR all were discovered as we tried to save our brave soldiers. Unfortunately war seems to be a time that we see a lot of trauma and can experiment with ways to try to save more lives.

Today we are still making advances in medicine to help our war injured and many of these advances are helping others.

A Tourniquet was considered for many years as the absolutely last resort to control bleeding. I was originally taught in Boy Scouts that the application of a tourniquet had as the only consequence the amputation of the receiving limb. Today we know that applying a tourniquet can save many lives. We’ve learned that a wide constricting band doesn’t necessarily demand an amputation. Today tourniquets are issued to soldier and have been commonly used in pre-hosptial medicine.

I have also read that the Army is now issuing a Junctional Tourniquet to provide stabilization for severe bilateral bleeding.

Abdominal injuries have often caused issues to rescuers. The inability to compress and control bleeding has been an issues and our care is generally limited to “Diesel Therapy.” The more Diesel that we put through the engine, the faster it goes. A study that’s currently being done involves Stasis foam which is injected into the abdomen and will harden to help tamponade off injuries. This has not moved to general use, but may someday help us control abdominal bleeding from traumatic injuries.


The Xstat has received some positive press, but still seems to be very difficult to get to do more experimentation. A large syringe containing hemostatically coated sponges can be injected into the site of a large penetrating injury and as the sponges expand will control bleeding. The Xstat has recently received FDA approval.

Yesterday we remembered those who lost their lives to provide our freedoms. Many of us vowed that they “will never be forgotten.” But their lives, and injuries helped us learn ways that we can help save many others. Hopefully some day we will be able to learn much more from peace than war.

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