The University of Cincinnati's (UC) trauma and critical care researchers secured a US Air Force (USAF) grant to study the impact of air medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) on patients, medical professionals and medical equipment.
Valued at more than $1m, the funding supports a total of seven research projects led by eight members of UC's Institute for Military Medicine, which is focused on studying the complex traumatic injuries of warfare.
Specifically, the funding will enable the scientists to continue research on the unique environment of air medical evacuation, conducted as part of a $24m cooperative agreement approved by USAF in 2010, and also launch new projects.
One of the projects will focus on studying the best method of resuscitation before transporting hypotensive injured patients and investigating the effects of freezing red blood cells (RBCs) for transport into theatre, while another will provide additional information about a new strategy to potentially increase the effectiveness of resuscitation with stored RBC units.
The remaining five projects will concentrate on the university's Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills (C-STARS) programme, which trains the physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists who treat and transport wounded military members from theatre to military base hospitals.
Under one project, the USAF and UC researchers will study the effect of reduced barometric pressure during flight on the critical care air transport (CCAT) team members to better understand how reduced blood oxygenation might affect the caregivers and their performance.
Three projects will investigate the impact of altitude on the medical equipment, including ventilators, pulse oximetres and endotracheal tubes, used by CCATT members during evacuation flights.
UC clinical professor of surgery Richard Branson said, ''We plan to evaluate methods to automatically control the cuff pressure during takeoff and landing, in order to maintain a safe level of pressure for the patient.''
The last project will lead to development of a searchable database of more than 5,000 CCATT missions flown during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to enable investigators to examine treatments and complications during air medical evacuation.
Image: A USAF C-17 Globemaster III aircraft transfers wounded personnel from Balad, Iraq to Ramstein, Germany. Photo: courtesy of USAF Master Sgt. Scott Reed.