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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Number: 754

Designed by the Medical Logistic Support Unit, it includes haemostatic agents to stop haemorrhages

A FIRST AID KIT FOR THE COMBATANTThe five minutes immediately following an attack are vital for the survival of the wounded.  The statistics managed by the US Army reveal that within that period, receiving medical attention can increase their likelihood for survival by up to 50 percent.  In these decisive moments, having basic medical equipment within reach may save a life.

With that idea in mind, the individual combat first aid kit has been designed, the latest contribution to the operation medical concept that is being promoted.  The philosophy is simple:  providing medical care to the wounded at the same moment and site where the incident occurs, and that this may be done by a fellow soldier himself, although he may lack medical training.  This is a first aid kit designed for the soldier, especially for one in the area of operations.  In fact, the idea of creating this new model originated from the experiences and needs detected on missions abroad.  Medical Logistic Support Unit members in charge of the technical revision of all medical equipment sent to the area of operations noticed the lack of a first aid kit specifically designed for the combatant.  They knew that other armies such as the US or German had one, and they set out to develop one.  To date Spain had had the individual first aid kit, which was not designed to face situations such as those that at times arise in countries like Afghanistan.  The new model has come to fill this gap without aiming to replace the previous one, since they are designed for different objectives and differ in content and container. 

The Spanish version of the individual combat first aid kit has the latest innovations in first aid care on the world market. In fact, three of the products it contains (the gloves, the Celox haemostatic agent and the disinfectant spray) have first reached Spain by way of the Army. 

Around 300 units have already been sent to Afghanistan, and the training course for their use has been given directly in the area of operations.  The objective is that, in a brief period of time, all forces posted abroad have one, thus the manufacture of 5,000 first aid kits is planned in the next six months. 


New Inside and Out

A FIRST AID KIT FOR THE COMBATANTThe first aid kit’s innovations start on the outside.  The pouch, whose design is currently being studied in Afghanistan, is adapted to a small rucksack.  It has a quick hook up system and offers great fastening versatility:  it can be placed on the belt, leg or vest.  It has an outside Velcro pocket that holds a pair of scratch- and puncture-proof, highly resistant nitrile gloves.  Inside rubber fasteners hold everything perfectly in place.  Outstanding among the items it holds is Celox.  This product, with a chitosan base –a substance extracted from the shell of a sea snail-, is capable of stopping a haemorrhage, even of arterial origin.  In the first aid kit, it appears in three formats (in an applicator, in packets and in an impregnated gauze bandage) that may be combined according to the type of wound.  For example, in  the case of a penetrating wound such as one caused by a bullet, the ideal treatment would be to begin by introducing Celox with the applicator into the wound hole and combining this treatment later with a packet to finish by coving the entire wound with the emergency bandage.  This bandage incorporates a fastener that facilitates its placement and prevents it from moving. 

Another of the cutting edge items is the protective spray.  Unlike most, it does not have an alcohol base, and therefore can be used on mucous membrane like the eyes and mouth.  It serves to neutralise the possible spread of infections or diseases like hepatitis or HIV.


More innovations in operational medical care

During this year other military medical equipment has been incorporated which responds to the operational medical philosophy.  Among them, the following can be highlighted:

 - pocket CPR: this pocket size electronic device is an aid to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation.  Placed on the victim’s chest, it indicates the frequency and intensity of the massage, as well as whether or not this is appropriate.

- malleable splint for immobilisations, similar to a plaster cast but without needing water.

- high security oxygen mask. It is guaranteed not to come out of position during transfer thanks to its head fastening system. 

- venom extractor with shaver and various applicators for adaption to the size of the sting or bite.

For medical personnel:

- portable infusion pump

- lighter weight, disposable, lighted, plastic laryngoscope.

- portable, lightweight traction splint to reduce and immobilise a fracture.