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Battlefield medicine, also called field surgery and later combat casualty care, is the treatment of wounded soldiers in or near an area of combat. Civilian medicine has been greatly advanced by procedures that were first developed to treat the wounds inflicted during combat. With the advent of advanced procedures and medical technology, even polytrauma can be survivable in modern wars. Battlefield medicine is a category of military medicine.
Chronology of medical advances on the battlefield
- During the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403, Prince Henry had an arrow removed from his face using a specially designed surgical instrument.
- Ambulances or dedicated vehicles for the purpose of carrying injured persons. These were first used by Spanish soldiers during the Siege of Málaga (1487).
- French military surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510–90) pioneered modern battlefield wound treatment. His two main contributions to battlefield medicine are the use of dressing to treat wounds and the use of ligature to stop bleeding during amputation.
- American Revolutionary War: Many surgeons during this time were not licensed practicing physicians, 400 out of 3,500 doctors were fully licensed, in fact only two universities offered medical degrees which was King's College in New York, and the College of Philadelphia. At this time there were very few doctors that had equal knowledge as their European counterparts. They also were not able to produce many remedies for illnesses, only scurvy, malaria, and smallpox. Most deaths occurred not from battle injuries, but from surgeries because of not knowing the proper techniques and not having proper sterilization. One study shows that around 50% of surgeries were fatal.
- The practice of triage pioneered by Dominique Jean Larrey during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).
- Russian surgeon Nikolay Ivanovich Pirogov was one of the first surgeons to use ether as an anaesthetic in 1847, as well as the very first surgeon to use anaesthesia in a field operation during the Crimean War.
- American Civil War surgeon Jonathan Letterman (1824–72) originated modern methods of medical organization within armies.
- Advances in surgery - especially amputation, during the Napoleonic Wars and First World War on the battlefield of the Somme.
- The first practical method for transporting blood, by Norman Bethune during the Spanish Civil War.
- The establishment of fully equipped and mobile field hospitals such as the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was first practiced by the United States in World War II. It was succeeded in 2006 by the Combat Support Hospital.
- The use of helicopters as ambulances, or MEDEVACs was first practiced in Burma in 1944. The first medivac under fire was done in Manila in 1945 where over 70 troops were extracted in five helicopters, one and two at a time.
- The extension of emergency medicine to prehospital settings through the use of emergency medical technicians.
- Wound VACS, modified burn management protocols, liberal use of Factor 7 and other contributions from pioneers like Maj James Pollock, Major Mark Rasnake and Col Ty Putnum define the spirit of the Combat Medics of every AEF deployment cycle.
- The use of remote Physiological Monitoring Devices on soldiers to show vital signs and biomechanical data to the medic and MEDEVAC crew before and during trauma. This allows medicine and treatment to be administered as soon as possible in the field and during extraction.
The term "Meatball surgery" is a term used in battlefield medicine to refer to surgery that is meant to be performed rapidly to stabilize the patient as quickly as possible.
- Military medicine
- Medical Corps
- Combat medic
- Aid station
- Combat support hospital
- Ambulance#Military use
- History of medicine
- Timeline of medicine and medical technology
- Textbook of Military Medicine
- Remote physiological monitoring
- Editorial Board, Army Medical Department Center & School, ed. (2004). Emergency War Surgery (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Borden Institute at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
- Battlefield Medicine - The Ancient World 2000 BC-AD 500
- Digital Military Medicine Collections of the U.S. Army Academy of Health Sciences, Stimson Library
-  Naval Special Warfare Command shifts from ATLS model to their own TCCC model as a result of new studies and the Iraq experience.
- The short film A METHOD OF TEACHING COMBAT SURGERY (1958) is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]