More amputees but fewer deaths: combat medicine working hard for our soldiers

 

Staff Sgt. Travis Mills is a young father whose life is now drastically different.  Busy defending our freedom — and the freedom of the oppressed citizens in Afghanistan, he was the victim of a bomb that took from him his left hand, his entire right arm, and both legs below the knees.  You know how he considers himself?  Amazingly, he thinks he considers himself “lucky.”

A fantastic article by reporter David Tarrant in today’s Dallas Morning News tells the story of Staff Sgt. Mills and those who are on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Read more here.

Tarrant’s story points out that since 2009, the number of combat casualties in Afghanistan who sustained one or more amputations have increased sharply, mostly due to blasts from buried explosives.  Meanwhile, the number of fatalities has dramatically decreased.  It’s interesting to look at when compared with survival rates of veterans of past wars, including:

  • World War II: 69%
  • Korean War: 75%
  • Vietnam War: 76%
  • Iraq and Afghanistan: 91%

Advances in battlefield medicine, including the new combat application tourniquet, Fentanyl “lollipops,” and advanced training of medics have helped improve the odds for our soldiers.  All of those things went into saving the life of Staff Sgt. Mills, who, at the time of his injury, became one of only four quadruple amputees of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now faces the challenge of regrouping from these injuries and moving forward with his life, one which he is facing with gusto and determination.

Personally, I’m grateful for any advances in medicine, including equipment and training, that can save lives or save the quality of life for these deserving men and women.  I can’t think of anyone who deserves the highest level of medical attention more.  Let’s support medical research and military funding that make these things possible.

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