Combat & Casualty Care

Summer 2017

Military Magazines in the United States and Canada, Covering Combat and Casualty Care, first responders, rescue and medical products programs and news\Tactical Defense Media

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MODERNIZING THE RESCUE LITTER Since the beginning of time, man has needed a way to move wounded Warriors off the battlefield. The earliest version of transport was a stretcher comprised of some sort of cloth stretched over a frame made of two poles. This simple mode of carrying a patient works well if rescuers and patient are located on relatively flat ground. But history has not lent itself to battles fought on conveniently located open territory. "What do you do when you get wounded out in the middle of the jungle and can't get to a hospital or a forward surgical team or you can't be evacuated? The rescue litter allows medical personnel to package the patient up in a supine [flat] position and carry the person over rough terrain," said Jaime Lee, MSS product manager. To meet the need to evacuate a patient over difficult ground conditions or out of tight situations, such as mountainous areas, collapsed buildings, water rescue, etc., USAMMDA's MSS PMO worked with Skedco in Tualatin, Oregon to come up with a new kind of litter. According to Lee, the rescue litter was only developed in the last thirty years, because only then had the technology become available. Skedco began to develop products to be able to rescue people and hoist them by helicopter in situations where you could not land to load a patient normally. The resulting and currently used Sked is a basket type litter which secures the patient for horizontal and vertical carrying, thus allowing for evacuation over all kinds of terrain. Patients are strapped on to the litter using a series of buckled straps. If air evacuation is needed, after the patient is secure, four additional straps meet in the center and are fastened with a carabiner closure, which then secures to a helicopter line for hoisting. If needed, a flotation kit can be used, which allows the litter to float vertically. For patients needing more support, a spine splint is also available for use with the litter. The litter can be pulled along the ground using a one-person harness. For more rocky terrain, it can be carried by four medical personnel, two on each side, using nylons handles. Requirements Update Because the Skedco rescue litter has been in the field for decades, servicemembers have been able to provide valuable feedback on how to improve it. They have expressed the need for it to be lighter and smaller, to move away from the strap system of securing the patient, and to allow for better patient access. The Operational System Development funded project, which supports the continued improvement and upgrading of products already in production, will consist of a two-fold approach. First, the current litter will be revised. Second, a lighter advanced-design rolled rescue litter will be developed using new polymer materials. Both litters will have the advantage of a new five-point harness system, which improves patient support, provides better patient access and reduces the number of steps needed to secure the patient allowing for faster mobility. "The new litter will use an updated geometric design, which allows for a more foldable product, with seams on both sides allowing for improved unrolling of the product. It will have a smaller footprint, will be easier to pull over rough terrain and will offer more patient security," said Lee. The improved rescue litter, the Mission Sked, is carried rolled up in a nylon backpack which measures nine inches in diameter. When it is laid out flat it is 28.25 inches by 88.25 inches. When packaged, the complete Sked system weighs 17 pounds. The litter itself is made out of a durable medium density E-Z glide polyethylene plastic. The newly designed Flexsked will also be 28.25 inches by 88.25 inches. The final weight is still to be determined based on the results of the final testing. Projections for an updated version of the Mission Sked that meets the new requirements show that the cost would stay approximately the same as the current version. Costs for the Flexsked will be determined once the design is finalized. Recent Product Testing Ground testing was recently conducted June 19-20, 2017 at Camp Bullis, San Antonio, Texas. For two days, Soldiers on behalf of the AMEDD, put both the modified Mission Sked and the new Flexsked to the test. They practiced evacuating a test mannequin from a building. During timed maneuvers, they had to unpack the litter from its carrying case, attach a splint to the patient, secure him to the litter and carry him down a set of steps. They then carried and dragged the patient over an obstacle course which consisted of a series of different terrains, including asphalt, gravel, grass and rocks. The Soldiers practiced rigging up the litter for air evacuation, which was then "cancelled" for practical purposes of the exercise. They then placed the patient onto a regular litter and loaded him into a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MaxPro Plus Ambulance and then into a M997 Ambulance for ground evacuation. This scenario was repeated many times in order to get a good idea of the ease of use and durability of the litters. Air and water testing will take place in the future at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Once the test results are in, either modifications will be made to the current Mission Sked or a new Flexsked will be developed. Regardless, the need for a rescue litter in the medical equipment sets will remain a constant. Current rescue litter applications have been used in Army Medical Department (AMEDD) medical equipment sets for over 30 years and need updating to meet new requirements. The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) Medical Support System Project Management Office, Ft. Detrick, MD, has been tasked with accomplishing this objective. By Barbara Romiti, USAMMDA Soldiers carry the modified Sked over rocky terrain during testing at Camp Bullis, San Antonio, Texas. (Jeremy Torrence, AMEDD Test Board) Summer 2017 | Combat & Casualty Care | 29 ENHANCING OUTCOMES NEXT-GEN MEDICAL EVACUATION

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