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A lot of our advances in surgery and emergency medical care have come through times of war. These new bandages are the latest example, taking first aid to a new level.
In the midst of a battle, it may take some time for help to arrive. For a wounded solider, every minute is precious. On a battlefield, severe bleeding is the most common form of death.
Bandages that medics used in the past to patch up wounds until the soldier could be airlifted to a field hospital worked well for small wounds. But when there's heavy bleeding, they're not as effective.
But now, there's a new generation of battlefield bandages. The bandages contain clotting agents that quickly stop the bleeding. That's because moisture causes clotting agents to form a thick gel.
On the battlefield that moisture would be blood, and the gel would seal the wound.
Dr. Marc Snyder, who runs the emergency department at St. Luke's hospital, sees big benefits to having better first aid.
Dr. Mark Snyder, St. Luke's Hospital: "IF YOU CAN GET A WOUND TO STOP BLEEDING RAPIDLY, YOU CAN SAVE A LOT OF BLOOD LOSS AND AVOID THE COMPLICATIONS OF TRANSFUSION, MINIMIZE SHOCK, WHICH CAN AFFECT OTHER ORGANS. IT COULD BE A TREMENDOUS LIFESAVER."
Special operations forces have already been equipped with the bandages. They work in small groups, usually far in advance of support, so medical help is a long way away.
By clotting a wound in under two minutes, the bandages can prevent life-threatening blood loss so that definitive care can take place in a more controlled setting.
Once again a wartime need, that's driving medicine forward.
"IT'S SORT OF THE SILVER LINING TO AN OTHERWISE UGLY CLOUD. BUT MEDICINE HAS HAD ADVANCES FROM WARTIME EXPERIENCE, ESPECIALLY THE VIETNAM WAR."
If the bandages are found to work well in the field with few side effects, they're likely to show up in ambulances across the country, to help paramedics control hemorrhaging so an accident victim can make it to the hospital for treatment.