Army tests wireless technology to streamline battlefield treatment

Looking to improve real-time medical efforts for soldiers in the field of battle, U.S. Army medics at Fort Dix, N.J. trained this summer using new hand-held technologies and tactical 4G networks, according to an article posted to the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System website.

The medics used monitoring devices equipped with streaming video, voice and photo capabilities that were able to send electronic Tactical Casualty Care Cards--TC3s--for individual soldiers. The current TC3 system involves medics filling out a paper card that records what was seen and done with regard to an injured soldier before leaving the battlefield. The card then is attached to soldier via a metal wire.

The new version automatically sends such information to treatment facilities in real-time.

"There's an information gap that lies between the point of injury on the field and point of treatment back at a medical facility," researcher Gary Gilbert, who works with the U.S. Army Medical Research & Materiel Command's Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center, said in the article.  "We need to do a better job of being able to record what the medic saw and did prior to being evacuated to the treatment facility, and we want this record to be transmitted to the soldier's permanent health records."

Dave Williams, a project manager for theater telehealth initiatives with the TATRC, added that such technology has the potential to help doctors at treatment facilities triage patients ahead of time, which could help cut back on costs.

"The Army uses MEDEVAC, but the bad news is that it costs about $20,000 per patient flight," Williams said in the article. "And if you have six assets and 12 patients, who should they get first? If we can determine which patients can be held and which can be treated and stabilized on site, it might be a less expensive way to save a patient's life."

The Army is no stranger to testing mHealth technologies. Last month, a joint effort by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Massachusetts Medical School was announced in which researchers will develop small wireless sensors that will be able to detect blood loss in patients. According to a WPI announcement, the Army is funding the three-year, $1.9 million project, and the sensors initially will be used by soldiers.

The Army also has tested smartphone and tablet apps that can be used in combat situations, including ones allowing soldiers to request evacuation following an injury that take advantage of GPS technology.

To learn more:
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