"Golden hour" in Afghanistan down to 68 minutes
Published: July 1, 2009
After a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he's pleased with efforts to speed up medical response time in Afghanistan. The goal for wounded U.S. troops in that country is the same as Iraq: Get them from the field to more advanced medical facilities with an hour, and their chances of survival increase exponentially.
Gates said right now the average for servicemembers in the south and west of Afghanistan is 68 minutes, much better than the 90-plus minutes in the past.
"We're getting down close to that hour," he said. "When I was in Afghanistan three weeks ago, a soldier there told me they had not been able to save a single double-amputee patient. Now they've saved several, thanks to these new assets."
Those new assets include six new medevac helicopters for the country, and three new field hospitals. Gates said officials are also discussing new rules for how medical evacuation helicopters operate (launching before all the necessary mission approvals have been collected, for example) in an effort to save time.
Officials at Landstuhlsaid this year, for the first time since 2003, they're seeing as many wounded patients from Afghanistan as from Iraq. The injuries haven't changed, though, meaning they still have plenty of work to do.
[PHOTO: Defense Department]