Combat-medicine lessons from Iraq, Afghanistan applied to Boston Marathon wounded
April 16, 2013
Improvised explosive devices caused carnage on the street of an American city this week, but after more than a decade of grim experience treating U.S. troops maimed by such weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of the emergency workers and volunteers along Boston's Boylston Street knew how to react.
They included nurses and medics who had served as National Guardsmen trained in front-line first aid, and a peace activist, Carlos Arredondo, who had lost his Marine son, Alexander, in Iraq in 2004.
"You can see (the bomb) was like an IED,'' he said, sweeping his arm low to the ground where the shrapnel flew as he spoke to reporters soon after helping to evacuate a man with two severed legs to an ambulance.
Civilian trauma experts say the insights gained from keeping severely wounded troops alive have quickly taken hold in civilian emergency departments and ambulances across the U.S.
Many of them are convinced that lessons from military medicine are a major reason why more civilians are surviving gunshot injuries in the U.S., even as the total number of shootings has been increasing, according to figures kept by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, the expertise has shifted to bystanders at a footrace hit by bombs, the Boston Marathon.