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Journal Article


Baldwin D, Arana AA, Savell SC, Cutright J, Medellin K, Castaneda M, Bebarta VS, Davis WT, Maddry JK, Ng PC. Mil. Med. 2023; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2023, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States)






INTRODUCTION: The War in Afghanistan ended in August 2021. Evacuation from the country was a large effort during the last days of the conflict. During evacuation efforts at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, a suicide bombing occurred necessitating emergent medical care for many injured troops and civilians. The U.S. Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Teams (CCATTs) played a role in the medical care provided during the operations in Afghanistan. We report on in-flight events and interventions that took place during the final days of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a retrospective chart review of patients requiring aeromedical evacuation from the Afghanistan theater of operations by CCATT from July 1 to August 30, 2021. From the CCATT patient care record, data abstractors collected patient characteristics, flight information, vital signs, laboratory values, in-flight interventions, and in-flight events in a study-specific electronic database. We performed descriptive analyses of patient characteristics and in-flight interventions. This study was approved by the San Antonio Institutional Review Board.

RESULTS: Nine patients were included in this analysis. Seven out of nine patients were foreign nationals; the remaining two were U.S. Marines. Five patients suffered penetrating injuries from gunshot wounds and four suffered blast injuries. Six received intravenous narcotic analgesia. Four received intravenous sedatives, and four received antibiotics in flight. Two patients required chest tube management. One patient received blood. Three patients were in acute respiratory distress.

CONCLUSIONS: Severe injuries were sustained during the withdrawal efforts at the end of the War in Afghanistan. Critical Care Air Transport Teams played a role in the care and evacuation of patients out of theater during this unique and unprecedented time. Even given the limitations associated with retrospective studies and a small sample size, information reported in this study can help inform future decisions, and aid in preparatory efforts for future operations, that may require medical care by CCATT.

Language: en


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