Handling Combat Injuries, Combat Stress Disorders

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Before deployment, soldiers from the Illinois National Army and Air Guard will undergo intensive five-day training in trauma and life-support for the treatment of military casualties at Rush University Medical Center. Forty-five soldiers took part in the training session from September 13-18.

The goal of the program is to expose the soldiers to more hands-on training before they encounter trauma in the field.

The program was developed through a unique partnership between Rush University Medical Center and the Illinois National Guard and has expanded from a three day course to a five day course.

"Medical personnel in the Illinois National Guard, like in the civilian sector, must continuously receive medical training," said Capt. James Dodd, Illinois Army National Guard 708th Ground Ambulance Medical Company commander. "The partnership with Rush not only further prepares our medics for situations they may experience in deployment, but as part of an on-going training program, further enhances the Illinois National Guard's ability to serve the citizens of Illinois and respond to any homeland emergency or incident."

The workshop focuses on the types of injuries the medical company will encounter in combat such as blast and burn injuries. The new course consists of more classroom training, simulation lab exercises, advanced trauma laboratory training, and observing a level I trauma center. This year, the soldiers also will have a chance to ride alongside medics from the Chicago Fire Department.

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Participants also receive hands-on training in the Rush University Simulation Laboratory, which will be set up as a field hospital and battlefield. The Rush University Simulation Laboratory has developed a "virtual patient" for the Army called I-STAN that will be programmed to simulate the specific types of injuries seen on the battlefield.

The life-sized computer-controlled ‘virtual patients' are capable of simulating nearly any possible human medical or traumatic emergency including allergic reactions, the effects of biochemical agents, or loss of limb from a blast injury. The simulators have life-like human functions that enhance training, such as blinking eyes, exhalation of carbon dioxide, chest movements, coughing, palpable pulses, and much more.

Soldiers will also learn about combat stress disorders and signs and symptoms of trauma exposure from internationally renowned expert in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Stevan Hobfoll, PhD, director of the Traumatic Stress Center at Rush University Medical Center.

Training is intended to augment what has already been provided to the medics through the military. The training course at Rush focuses on basic trauma response, which includes airway management, bleeding control, initial management of burns, spinal motion restriction, extremity immobilization and traction splint application.

Medics also receive advanced training in trauma response leadership, advanced airway management, needle chest decompression, fluid resuscitation, and advanced life support. The medical soldiers receive International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) certification at the conclusion of the training.

Soldiers will also observe real life emergency medical response to trauma patients. Participants spend an eight hour shift with physicians, nurses, and paramedics at a level I trauma center.

"We don't just want the soldiers to learn to respond to trauma in the classroom. We want them to experience it before they are deployed," said Dr. Dino Rumoro, clinical chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine at Rush. "Seeing a trauma for the first time can be shocking. We hope to avoid a potential delay in treatment by caretaker shock through preparation of the soldiers before they are in the field."

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