The US Military Has The Most Sophisticated Casualty Evacuation System In The World

Afghanistan Patrol

I’ll never forget that sound.


We had set up in line on this ridge when all hell broke loose. I mean mortars, rockets, small arms. The yelling and the dust.

There were the zips and pops, I won’t forget those either, the sound of rounds flying over and beside you. I could see the impacts in front of us.

I’ll never forget Cpl. Sedrick Hay off to my left, shouting himself hoarse, directing two machine guns, laying it down thick on enemy positions. Just a few feet to my right was then-2nd Lt. Mike Rhoads, a trained forward observer, ranging enemy positions with sophisticated binoculars.

Then suddenly, “zzzzzzthhhwp!” That’s what it sounded like. Rhoads turned toward me, coughed, barked, “I’m hit!”

Hay jumped clear over me and a machine gunner toward Rhoads.

The “Golden Hour” had begun.

Treatment for casualties like Rhoads starts with immediate action from guys on the ground.

While the Navy Corpsmen plugged up the holes in Rhoads, commanders called for casualty evac, and popped smoke to mark our position.

This is what Rhoads' bird looked like when it came in to his rescue.

In a separate training evolution, Air Force medical personnel show us what it's like accepting a casualty.

The Golden Hour: Time is of the essence, so the birds only sit for a matter of seconds as casualties are loaded.

Depending on the severity of the injuries, casualties can be treated, stabilised, and flown immediately to even higher care.

One way or another, most casualties go home eventually. If the injury is bad enough though, they'll be rushed to Germany right away.

Which requires loading onto specialised fixed-wing aircraft.

The aircraft is filled with medical instruments and personnel to make sure everything goes smoothly.

In the Landstuhl Regional Medical centre, Germany, (where Rhoads later said his memory picked up) patients receive the highest level of care available in the European theatre.

Medical personnel have access to state of the art equipment for invasive and non-invasive medical procedures.

This is where Lt. Rhoads received care for a collapsed lung and gunshot entry and exit wounds.

And though the worst of it was taken care of in Germany, the doctors there and in Afghanistan ultimately credited the actions of Corpsmen on the battlefield with saving Rhoads' life.

NOW that you've seen how lives are saved on the battlefield ...

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