Support: April 5, 2003

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Since combat casualties were first moved by airplane during World War II, the rule was that the patient had to first be stabilized. That meant that patients in need of the most complex intensive care (specialist surgeons, special equipment) would often die because they needed that special care to be stabilized in the first place. In the last decade, the U.S. Air Force has come up with a solution for that problem. It's the CCATT (Critical Care Air Transport Team), which consists of a doctor, a critical care nurse, a medical technician and a lot of portable emergency room equipment. Like computer equipment in general, medical gear has become smaller and more efficient. So the CCATT team can basically carry their portable emergency room onto any transport aircraft that is carrying one or more patients in need of specialist care. The medical personnel take care of most medical emergencies while in flight, and the concept has already saved the lives of American troops badly wounded in places like Afghanistan and the Philippines. Iraq, on the other hand, will have less need for CCATT because it is a large operation with extensive medical facilities in the area. But even in Iraq, there may be a need to get very badly wounded troops to specialist facilities in Europe or the United States. The three members of the CCATT teams undergo two weeks of training on how to operate an ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in the sky.

 


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