Afghan war brought advances in battlefield medicine

One-handed tourniquets, blood transfusions near the front lines, faster evacuations and more saved lives in 20 years of a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

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June 9, 2021 - 8:55 AM

In June 2012, medical personnel at Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, in Helmand Province, discuss a patient’s case. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

SAN DIEGO — When the last U.S. service member leaves Afghanistan, perhaps by early next month, America’s longest war on foreign soil will end — and so too a mission initially dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom.

Just what endures from the 20-year war is an open question, except in one area: battlefield medicine. There, gains have already taken root.

One-handed tourniquets. Blood transfusions near the front lines. Faster evacuations to trauma centers. All got implemented in Afghanistan, and all saved lives.

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