Tactical Combat Casualty Care

The brave men and women of the military not only risk their lives for us – they also provide a wealth of trauma experience and publish interesting stuff.
This month’s Journal of Trauma contains a military trauma supplement. One of the articles describes the latest guidelines on Tactical Combat Casualty Care. These include:

  • tourniquet use
  • Quikclot Combat Gauze as the haemostatic agent which has replaced Quikclot powder and HemCon. This preference is based on field experience that powder and granular agents do not work well in wounds in which the bleeding vessel is at the bottom of a narrow wound tract or in windy environments. WoundStat was a backup agent but this has been removed because of concerns over possible embolic and thrombotic complications.
  • longer catheters for decompression of tension pneumothorax (Harcke et al. found a mean chest wall thickness of 5.36 cm in 100 autopsy computed tomography studies of military fatalities. Several of the cases in their autopsy series were noted to have had unsuccessful attempts at needle thoracostomy because the needle/catheter units used for the procedure were too short to reach the pleural space*.)
  • close open chest wounds immediately with an occlusive material, such as Vaseline gauze, plastic wrap, foil, or defibrillator pads
  • a rigid eye shield and antibiotics for penetrating eye injury

Tactical Combat Casualty Care: Update 2009
The Journal of TRAUMA 2010;69(1):S10-13 (no abstract available)
Full text of guidelines in PDF at itstactical.com
*Harcke HT, Pearse LA, Levy AD, Getz JM, Robinson SR. Chest wall thickness in military personnel: implications for needle thoracentesis in tension pneumothorax. Mil Med. 2007;172:1260 –1263