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Battlefield Medicine: Proven in Combat, Blood-Clotting Agents Are Finding Their Way to the Kits of First Responders

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 27 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2003 Pages: 34,36,38
Lois Pilant
Date Published
March 2003
4 pages
After reviewing statistics on prehospital deaths from bleeding due to accidents and gunshot wounds, this article discusses the status of research on blood-clotting agents (hemostatic products) that could be used by first responders to an accident or crime scene.
Medical and military personnel have known for years that 90 percent of people who die in war do so before they reach a medical facility, and 50 percent of combat casualties die from bleeding, with most dying less than 30 minutes after injury. This suggests priority should be given to stopping any bleeding as soon as possible after it starts. In spite of this knowledge, there has been a neglect of prehospital trauma care, such that a person has the same chance of bleeding to death today as did a soldier in the Civil War. The Marines, however, have been interested in researching the efficacy of hemostatic products. The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab undertook a study in 2000 that tested three hemostatic products: Rapid Deployment Hemostat Bandage (RDH), OuikClot, and Trauma DEX. When QuikClot was applied to the wound of a lab animal, the survival rate was 100 percent, with a significant reduction in blood loss. The Lab currently is conducting a follow-up test, comparing a reformulated version of QuikClot that does not produce an exothermic reaction. With the exception of this research, there currently are very few objective, controlled studies in the medical literature. Advice to law enforcement agencies is that in considering a hemostatic product, they should include in their search members of the local medical community and research the U.S. military's experience, while following the progress of its current tests. They should also consider how foreign militaries handle battlefield injuries. Most importantly, vendors should be queried about their claims. Until effective hemostatic products are available on the market, officers should be trained to use a tourniquet or pressure dressing to help a victim avoid death from blood loss.