MARCH Home Knowledge on Blast Injuries

Ambroise Paré, on the battlefield using a ligature for the artery of an amputated leg of a soldier.(Photo Wikipedia)

Under the best of situations major trauma centers can be overwhelmed with dozens of seriously injured patients but for many CMES participants limited resources are an everyday reality. The August EM:RAP podcast titled, “Blast Injuries” by Anand Swaminathan MD and Josh Bucher MD will help you piece together triage and treatments for a mass casualty.

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) uses the mnemonic MARCH for military battlefield medicine. 

 

 

  • Massive hemorrhage is managed through the use of tourniquets, hemostatic dressings, junctional devices, and pressure dressings.
  • Airway is managed by rapid and aggressive opening of the airway to include cricothyroidotomy for difficult airways.
  • Respirations and breathing is managed by the assessment for tension pneumothorax and aggressive use of needle decompression devices to relieve tension and improve breathing.
  • Circulation impairment is assessed and managed through the initiation of intravenous access followed up by administration of tranexamic acid (TXA) if indicated, and a fluid resuscitation challenge using the principles of hypotensive resuscitation. TCCC promotes the early and far forward use of blood and blood products if available over the use colloids and discourages the administration of crystalloids such as normal saline (sodium chloride).
  • Hypothermia prevention is an early and critical intervention to keep a traumatized casualty warm regardless of the operational environment.

A wounded knight is carried on a medieval stretcher. (Photo Wikipedia)

Who Knew? An early stretcher, possibly made of wicker over a frame, appears in a manuscript from c.1380.

Ambroise Pare (c. 1510-1590) is considered one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology and a pioneer in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine.

PreHospital Air Medical Plasma Trial (PAMPer)

Fresh frozen plasma (Wikimedia)

Fluid resuscitation, including type and amount, has been scrutinized for prehospital care of trauma patients. This recent multi-center study demonstrated remarkable results. The abstract is reproduced from the NEJM website:

The New England Journal of Medicine

Abstract

BACKGROUND

After a person has been injured, prehospital administration of plasma in addition to the initiation of standard resuscitation procedures in the prehospital environment may reduce the risk of downstream complications from hemorrhage and shock. Data from large clinical trials are lacking to show either the efficacy or the risks associated with plasma transfusion in the prehospital setting.

METHODS

To determine the efficacy and safety of prehospital administration of thawed plasma in injured patients who are at risk for hemorrhagic shock, we conducted a pragmatic, multicenter, cluster-randomized, phase 3 superiority trial that compared the administration of thawed plasma with standard-care resuscitation during air medical transport. The primary outcome was mortality at 30 days.

RESULTS

A total of 501 patients were evaluated: 230 patients received plasma (plasma group) and 271 received standard-care resuscitation (standard-care group). Mortality at 30 days was significantly lower in the plasma group than in the standard-care group (23.2% vs. 33.0%; difference, −9.8 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, −18.6 to −1.0%; P=0.03). A similar treatment effect was observed across nine prespecified subgroups (heterogeneity chi-square test, 12.21; P=0.79). Kaplan–Meier curves showed an early separation of the two treatment groups that began 3 hours after randomization and persisted until 30 days after randomization (log-rank chi-square test, 5.70; P=0.02). The median prothrombin-time ratio was lower in the plasma group than in the standard-care group (1.2 [interquartile range, 1.1 to 1.4] vs. 1.3 [interquartile range, 1.1 to 1.6], P<0.001) after the patients’ arrival at the trauma center. No significant differences between the two groups were noted with respect to multiorgan failure, acute lung injury–acute respiratory distress syndrome, nosocomial infections, or allergic or transfusion-related reactions.

CONCLUSIONS

In injured patients at risk for hemorrhagic shock, the prehospital administration of thawed plasma was safe and resulted in lower 30-day mortality and a lower median prothrombin-time ratio than standard-care resuscitation. (Funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command; PAMPer ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT01818427.)

Who Knew?

Two vampires walked into a bar.

The bartender said, “what will it be?”

The first vampire said, “I’ll have a blood.”

The second vampire said, “I’ll have a plasma.”

“Right”, the bartender replied, “one blood and one blood lite.”

 

 

The Long & Short of Neck Injuries

Giraffe (WikiCommons photo)

Blunt neck trauma can be an airway nightmare. Listen to the podcast or catch the bullet points about workup and treatment from the May 2018 EMRAP article by Mel Herbert MD and Billy Mallon MD called Blunt Neck Trauma.

Who Knew? A giraffe’s neck is too short to reach the ground. It spreads its front legs or kneels to reach the ground for a drink of water.