Videos to prepare doctors for war wounds

Sept. 27, 2010 at 1:04 PM

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. says videos will prepare military doctors for wounds they'll see in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially blast wounds from roadside bombs.

The harrowing videos showing military medical personnel treating gaping, bleeding war wounds was assembled from footage shot over six weeks in the emergency room at the Air Force hospital in Balad, Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The videos have been prepared by doctors at UCLA in cooperation with the Department of Defense.

In the videos, military doctors display the strain of daily efforts at "damage-control" surgery as they speak directly to the camera.

"There are a lot of limbs lost," Air Force Maj. Mark Gunst says quietly on camera. "The wounds are always dirty. They're always more extensive than you think they're going to be.... What it looks like on the outside may be only be the tip of the iceberg."

More than 80 percent of battlefield wounds inflicted on U.S. personnel are blast injuries.

"What blast injuries do is combine four or five ways of killing and focus them all on one person," Dr. Eric Savitsky, the lead UCLA doctor on the two-year, $850,000 project, said.

The videos and accompanying training text from the UCLA project are intended to get doctors ready for both the number of casualties and the gravity of their wounds.

"Even for the most experienced physicians, there is a steep learning curve once they get here," Army Col. Brian Eastridge, the joint theater trauma system director in Afghanistan, said.. "They have so much to learn about how to resuscitate casualties, how to operate on casualties, how to prioritize casualties, how to treat casualties."

The videos will be used at medical training sites in the United States and at military hospitals in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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