3/10/2005

Why do troops lack tourniquets?

From ABC News website:
Two senators have sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking why U.S. troops in Iraq are operating without inexpensive tourniquets that can potentially save lives. The letter from Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., obtained by ABC News, refers to a report in Sunday's edition of The Baltimore Sun that there has been a delay in getting new first-aid kits containing tourniquets to the troops.
"A number of our bravest military personnel have reportedly bled to death on the battlefield, and the experts have determined that putting a tourniquet in the hands of every soldier is a vital life-saving measure," the letter states. "Holding up the fielding of a life-saving medical kit simply to optimize its carrying pouch suggests a mindset oblivious to the wartime needs of our soldiers."
Levin is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Durbin serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The senators likened the lack of tourniquets to other "underestimated" equipment requirements, including "body armor, vehicle add-on armor and the production of new, up-armored [Humvees.]"
The Sun article said doctors and Army medical officials estimate as many as tens of thousands of soldiers are in combat without the simple medical devices, and that some bleed to death from injuries that would not otherwise be fatal if a tourniquet were applied. It also said the Pentagon has not placed an order for first-aid kits with tourniquets although the Army has approved their use, and the delay may have to do with the development of new training manuals and a pouch for holding the tourniquet.
"Why do we continually find ourselves behind the curve in this war, scrambling to provide basic equipment and protection to our troops only after too many of them suffer grievous injuries?" the letter states. "What are you doing to change the thinking within the Pentagon to better anticipate equipment needs, to ensure that when a need is identified it is filled in an expedited fashion, and to ensure that Guard and Reserve units receive that equipment at the same time as regular Army units?"

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