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thedrifter
04-23-07, 09:50 AM
Medical, flight crews transport injured Marine directly to U.S.
By Kimberly Johnson - kjohnson@militarytimes.com
Posted : April 30, 2007

A recent medical evacuation of a severely wounded Marine from Iraq directly to the U.S. proved to be a life-saving medical first, highlighting advances in combat medicine and transportation, according to a top medical officer.

Evacuation of the young Marine, who suffered significant head trauma from a grenade blast on Feb. 7 in Ramadi, was the first time flight and medical crews transported a patient directly to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., said Navy Capt. David Shively, command surgeon for U.S. Transportation Command, which oversees the movement of injured troops out of Iraq.

Patients are typically sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, where they stay about 24 hours before traveling to Andrews and medical centers stateside, such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center or the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“It is unprecedented to be able to move a soldier or a Marine to a trauma center from the battlefield in under 72 hours,” Shively said. “From the time ... they were all notified, the patient was literally back in Bethesda within 18 hours of the mission being put together at Balad.”

The leatherneck’s name and unit were not released. Shively said he is recovering at a medical facility.

Blast injuries, such as those suffered by the Marine, are common, Shively said.

“With many of your [roadside bomb] blast events, quite often there is shrapnel that penetrates the head. The right side of his skull suffered significant brain injury,” he said.

Surgeons in Balad exposed the Marine’s brain to relieve pressure and initially planned to transport him to Landstuhl; however, during surgery, they discovered the injury was close to important blood vessels, requiring a neurosurgeon. The doctors in Balad realized the Marine needed to see a specialist in Bethesda and decided to bypass Landstuhl, Shively said.

“This was the first time we have flown this mission,” he said. Within a couple of hours, the flight crew initially slated to fly to Germany reworked flight plans and obtained waivers to cover the extra hours they would be in the air.

The crew flew the 5,400 nautical miles to Andrews in just less than 13 hours, performing an aerial refueling off the coast of Europe.

Ellie