Air Force awards $2 million to UC for medical evacuation research

University of Cincinnati researchers have received a grant of more than $2 million from the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine to help them figure out how rapid airlift evacuations of critically injured soliders affects the combatants' survival chances.

In a combat zone, the average medical evaluacion plane quickly ascends 8,000 feet within 10 minutes.  The plane's not a good environment for a wounded soilder -- there's 90 decibels of noise, lots of vibration and a pressurized environment with less oxygen to revive tissues and relieve stress on the body.  Avoiding a "second hit," such as a serious infection or pneumonia, improves survival dramatically. But doing so is challenging in a war zone. "Our overriding goal is to protect patients from anything that could potentially lead to a cascade of medical complications that will jeopardize survival," says Col. Warren Dorlac, M.D., co-principal investigator on the UC study. "But the reality is that evacuation is happening at a time when they are most prone to a secondary hit."

Dorlac and others believe there may be a direct link between inflammatory changes in the body and the timing of medical evacuations. UC researchers will study how early evacuation of combat casualties affects the body’s inflammatory responses, possibly predisposing already critically wounded people to death.

Writer: David Holthaus
Source: Amanda Harper, UC

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