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Military Innovation Could Save Lives at Home

Military Innovation Could Save Lives at Home

Posted - May 28, 2004 at 3:27 p.m.



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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingFrom artificial blood to surgical techniques, some of our biggest discoveries in medicine came out of wartime.

When a mass disaster strikes, the vast majority of people die before they get to a hospital. But with the threat of a possible terror attack this summer, the latest military innovation could be tested right here at home.

John Ashcroft, Attorney General: “This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaida’s specific intention to hit the United States hard.”

It's hard to hear in light of the terrorist attacks on 9-11and this year's train bombings in Spain. But according to some military surgeons, the United States is prepared to save more lives when terrorists strike again within our borders.

On display in San Francisco is a highly mobile resuscitative surgery unit -- a flexible, portable OR and recovery room.

Lt. Colonel Hayda, Orthopaedic Trauma Surgeon: “It goes up in less than an hour and starts taking casualties and operates within that time frame.”

It is designed to be either trucked in by humvees or loaded onto aircraft and dropped by parachutes. The goal - to get as close to ground zero as possible because for every casualty that dies in the hospital, nine will die prior to arriving.

Lt. Colonel Hayda: “The closer you are, the less time they spend in transport, the better the opportunity you have to do the best care for them.”

The surgery units were created to provide emergency surgery to US marine combat teams. They were field tested after a devastating quake in Iran destroyed the region's infrastructure, including the hospitals and clinics.

Christopher Born, M.D., Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon: “It was remarkable. It worked extremely well. We took care of several hundred patients and casualties, delivered six babies, did a number of operations.”

In Iran, where the quake hit, all the hospitals and clinics were destroyed, so these portable units truly saved lives.

The system can provide immediate medical and lifesaving care on a continuous 48-hour basis without re-supply.

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