Navy Medicine in Araby (Episode 7)

I’m posting this episode a day or two early because I’ll be away from my PC for the next several days to attend the annual Congress of the Naval Order of the United States, this year in Jacksonville, FL.

The Naval Order is the oldest Naval historical organization in the country, founded in 1890. It Mission is to preserve, promote and support research in the history of our maritime uniformed services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service and NOAA). One of my favorite features of our Congresses is that the local organizers try to highlight the military history of their locale. So in Jacksonville this week, we’ll have talks on “Rising Seas in Naval Cities”; “Doolittle’s Raiders”; “History of Florida in World War II”; “Maritime History of Jacksonville”; “Sinking of the Gulf America”; “”A History and Future of ASW in the Atlantic”; and “St John’s Bar Pilots”. You can see that there’s a broad sweep here, and likely something of interest to almost everyone in attendance.

Now, “Navy Medicine in Araby”, Episode 7 of 8.

In 2006, when the war in Afghanistan was being run by NATO, the Canadian Forces Health Services stood up a combat casualty facility at the Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan. Initially an Echelon 2 facility – limited to one operating room and very basic radiology and laboratory – the facility was expanded physically and by capability so that by the time it was turned over to U.S. Navy command in 2009, it boasted of 2 CT scanners, a robust blood bank and concomitant surgical capabilities. By the time the Canadians turned over command, the hospital and staff had performed more than 6700 procedures for more than 4100 patients. The mission of the hospital, from its beginning was three-fold; to treat coalition soldiers, to treat civilians injured as a result of the conflict, and to treat any civilians who presented with any life- limb- or eye-threatening medical problems.[1] The U.S. Navy retains overall command of the facility, though the staff is multinational.

The value of putting surgical assets very close to the area of combat became fully established during World War II, but as often happens, this idea was lost in time, especially as helicopter and other evacuation techniques came on line. Adding wartime experience and modern medical understanding has led to the system of echelons of care described earlier. Based on the notion of the “Golden Hour” – the critical time required for the best chances for successful combat casualty management – Forward Surgical Teams now accompany troops to positions very close to active combat – being placed in tents or other “shelters of opportunity”[2]so casualties can receive skilled stabilization and life-saving “damage-control” surgery at least theoretically within minutes of injury. Casualties are then evacuated in a stepwise fashion to more sophisticated levels of care, ultimately, when necessary, arriving in high-level specialty, research and teaching hospitals in the U.S.[3] Brooke Army Burn Center in San Antonio is a key example of this: all warriors – Army, Navy or Marine – who suffer significant burns receive the most advanced available care in this high level specialty, research and teaching hospital.

[1] Can J Surg. 2011 Dec; 54(6 Suppl): S124–S129

[2] Frosolone, op. cit.

[3] Frosolone, op. cit.

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  • Bill Kaufman  On 16 Oct 2017 at 14:23

    My dad was a member of the Naval Order for years. Very proud of it too.

    Bill Kaufman

    • thomaslsnyder  On 17 Oct 2017 at 06:52

      Bill, the fact that your father was a Companion likely makes you eligible to become one also. Information can be found on the website – look for the “How to Join” tab at the top of the page. You can also look up our membership chair, Don Schuld, in the “NOUS Leadership” tab. All the best, Tom

  • GP Cox  On 17 Oct 2017 at 03:04

    Enjoy your trip and the conference. Looking forward to your report on it.

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