SFTT's Unique Mission

Support our frontline troops with more than lip service—help them survive the rigors of war and reclaim their lives.

Read this fascinating and rather frightening dialogue published by ABC News (Australia) on The Golden Hour

MAJOR MATT HUEMAN: The golden hour is when the person has an injury . . .within the first two to five minutes there’s a certain number of people who will die that are not saveable. The next hour is where a lot of people, if they don’t get to a place that has surgical capability and the full gamut of taking care of them, will die as well. So the golden hour really reflects those people that are saveable if you’re able to get them to a place like a forward surgical team.

MAJOR BRYAN HELSEL: We provide 21st century intensive care, critical care for patients that would otherwise die. I mean there’s no way around, some of these people would have died.

CORCORAN: Too many soldiers wounded on Afghanistan’s remote battlefields were bleeding to death before reaching surgery at the big military hospitals. So last year, army surgical teams were moved much closer to the fight, to beat the golden hour.  For those who make it here alive, often with horrific injuries, there’s now a 98% chance of survival. A young female solider pulled from the wreckage of the MRAP has multiple fractures. For her comrade, Sgt. Adam Sandifer, hit by the massive concussive blast, the injuries are less clear.

MAJOR MATT HUEMAN: We try and get the chest and pelvis within the first ten minutes with all the other things that we do like checking the airway, making sure that they’re breathing, making sure they have a pulse, getting an IV in, doing an ultrasound making sure that they don’t have blood in their abdomen.

CORCORAN: Matt Hueman and Bryan Helsel both served in Iraq. They’re well practised in treating IED victims – but this is a different war, with different injuries.

(TO HUEMAN) So even if they are travelling in the new armoured MRAP’s they still can suffer severe injuries?

MAJOR MATT HUEMAN: They can, and it’s deceptive because it tends to be internal injuries so you know in my last deployment, we would see amputations, significant like above the knee amputations with the Hummvees. In this deployment the leg still appears to be functionally intact, but it’s still a significant injury inside so it’s actually sometimes a little bit harder to figure out.

Highlights on the brave efforts of the Angels of Mercy published by Stars and Stripes entitled:  More missions, more contact’ for Task Force Shadow

Highlights:

  • Hardly a day passes when the American flag above the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade’s headquarters here is not flying at half-staff. With U.S. and other coalition forces stepping up operations against Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, more dead and wounded are being pulled off the battlefield than ever before. Since deploying in March, helicopter ambulance crews with the brigade’s Task Force Shadow have flown more than 2,000 missions, evacuating more than 2,500 patients, according to Maj. Jason Davis, commander of Company C, 6th Battalion. That’s more than twice the rate that helicopter ambulance crews in southern Afghanistan were flying this time last year, he said.
  • The increase reflects just how sharply fighting in the region has spiked in recent months, a result of President Barack Obama’s decision to deploy 34,000 additional U.S. troops. Most were deployed to southern Afghanistan, where they, along with mostly British and Canadian forces, are trying to wrest control of strategically important areas from the Taliban, including the city of Kandahar and the Arghandab and Helmand river valleys. “You’ve got more people fighting the enemy in places where we haven’t been in a long time,” said Davis, 35, of Steilacoom, Wash. “And when you’ve got more people fighting, you’re going to have more missions.”

In a compelling story published today by the Washington Post, “Military medics combine ultramodern and time-honored methods to save lives on the battlefield” of Afghanistan.

Key Highlights:

  • At 6:09 p.m., Dustoff 57 has just left this base deep in Taliban-infiltrated Kandahar province, headed for a POI, or point of injury. Somewhere ahead of the aircraft is a soldier who minutes earlier stepped on an improvised explosive device, the signature weapon of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All the helicopter crew knows is that he’s “category A” – critical.  The trip out takes nine minutes.  Fifteen minutes have now passed since the soldier was wounded. Speed, simplicity and priority have always been the hallmarks of emergency medicine. The new battlefield care that flight medics and others on the ground practice takes those attributes to the extreme.
  • Four people run to the helicopter with the stretcher holding the wounded soldier. He lies on his back partially wrapped in a foil blanket. His chest is bare. In the middle of it is an “intraosseous device,” a large-bore needle that has been punched into his breastbone by the medic on the ground. It’s used to infuse fluids and drugs directly into the circulatory system when a vein can’t be found. It’s a no-nonsense technology, used occasionally in World War II, that fell out of favor when cheap and durable plastic tubing made IV catheters ubiquitous in the postwar years. Until they were revived for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, intraosseus devices were used almost exclusively in infants whose veins were too small to find. On each leg the soldier has a tourniquet, ratcheted down and locked to stop all bleeding below it. These ancient devices went out of military use more than half a century ago because of concern that they caused tissue damage. Now every soldier carries a tourniquet and is instructed to put one on any severely bleeding limb and not think of taking it off.
  • Tourniquets have saved at least 1,000 lives, and possibly as many as 2,000, in the past eight years. This soldier is almost certainly one of them. They’re a big part of why only about 10 percent of casualties in these wars have died, compared with 16 percent in Vietnam.  On the soldier’s left leg, the tourniquet is above the knee. The tourniquet on his right leg is lower, below the knee; how badly his foot is injured is hard to tell from the dressings. His left hand is splinted and bandaged, too. Whether he will need an amputation is uncertain. The hospital where he’s headed treated 16 patients in September who needed at least one limb amputated. Half were U.S. soldiers, and the monthly number has been climbing since March.
  • After three minutes on the ground, the helicopter takes off.  Eleven minutes after lifting off from the POI, the helicopter lands at the so-called Role 3, or fully equipped, hospital at Kandahar Airfield, about 30 miles to the east of the also well-fortified Forward Operating Base Wilson. There, surgeons will take care of the injuries before transferring the patient, probably within two days, to the huge military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and there, after a week or so, to the United States. It’s been 28 minutes since the helicopter left Forward Operating Base Wilson.

SFTT Analysis:

  • Before every Grunt leaves the wire, they want to know if air or artillery support is readily available and more importantly, if required, will an aerial medevac be responsive – in Joe speak “Time on Target for Air and Arty and a quick Nine-line medevac request . . . how quick will the angels of mercy get here?”.   Quick means quick, the sooner the better obviously, since every minute counts.  Secretary Gates figured this out when he began his battlefield circulation tours in Afghanistan when he became Secretary of Defense and quickly realized that the “Golden Hour”, that period in time that is the standard from time of request for a medevac to arrival at the point of injury and back to medical care on a base, was not being met in Afghanistan due to lack of medevac resources and the distant out-posts that troopers were operating from.  Secretary Gates made it a personal mission to close the gap and ensure that troopers were supported by the “Golden Hour” standard and personally kept the pressure on logistics planners to increase medevac resources and establish medical unit facilities in support of all forward deployed personnel.   The only question SFTT raises regarding this issue is why did it take the Secretary of Defense to correct this situation?  
  • The Washinton Post online article provides a remarkable photo gallery,  – of note is:
    • the destructive nature of an IED that targeted a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP).  The simplicity of a pressure plate device loaded with hundreds of pounds of fertilizer (and other components) can defeat US “resistant” vehicles.  More telling is that a device of this size takes time and local support to emplace;
    • grunts not wearing all of their protective gear – no throat, deltoid, or groin protectors – obviously a commanders call, but is the decision not to wear the complete armor suite because of weight and comfort?;
    • the chinstrap for the Advanced Combat Helmet is a flimsy strap of material – no chin pads are provided and the harness is simply used to hold the “brain bucket” in place.  At least the trooper is being medevaced for treatment of a possible TBI.
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photo of a soldierStand For The Troops (“SFTT”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Educational Foundation established by the late Col. David H. Hackworth and his wife Eilhys England to insure that our frontline troops have the best available leadership, equipment and training.

In the past four-plus years SFTT'S active campaign has focused on ensuring America's frontline troops get the best available individual protective equipment and combat gear.

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Hackworth Memorial DVD

photo of HackworthIncludes rare footage from Hack's memorial service at Fort Myers Chapel and burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
All donations received from purchasing of The Hackworth Memorial DVD go to Stand For The Troops a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, non-partisan apolitical foundation established by Hack and his wife Eilhys to make sure that America's front-line forces—the kids Hack loved out at the tip of the spear—always have the right training, leadership and equipment to meet their assigned missions and make it home alive and in one piece.

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  • December 23, 2009: The law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP filed the final motion with the Federal Court in Washington, DC in the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) on behalf of the SFTT’s editor for forensic records held by the Department of Defense (“DOD”).
  • October 16, 2009: The Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issues report to Congress calling for “independent expert assessment of Army body armor test results.” This damning report of US Army body armor test procedures is the outgrowth of a two-year investigative and educational campaign by SFTT to seek fair and impartial test procedures.

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