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Troopers from the 82d Abn Div consumed both canteens of water on their long flight to Panama and were unable to replenish them before they jumped. Once they jumped, it took the dispersed units up to two hours to get to their rally points, and due to the tropic heat, the troops arrived completely wet with sweat. Several soldiers became dehydrated and suffered heat injuries. The combat lifesavers were able to treat them immediately and probably saved many lives.


Commanders are convinced that the combat lifesavers saved lives and directly contributed to accomplishing the mission. Additionally, aerial medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) was critical, but prioritization of casualties was extremely difficult due to incomplete MEDEVAC requests, contributing to delays.


  • Combat lifesavers carrying intravenous (IV) fluid and starter sets are critical in preventing heat injuries from becoming debilitating. They know the importance of securing the objective first and then treating the casualty as well as the limits of their medical capability.

  • Limited MEDEVAC assets make prioritizing casualties for evacuation and complete, accurate MEDEVAC requests essential.

  • Aerial medical evacuation litter carrousels hamper quick loading and leaves little room for ambulatory patients and supplies. For combat operations, when exact casualty conditions are not known, an empty MEDEVAC aircraft offers the best arrangement for casualty loads and speed.

  • Units must have workable SOPs for controlling the equipment of medically evacuated soldiers.

  • Assault helicopters must be prepared to evacuate wounded from a landing zone (LZ) when they make a second or third lift.

  • Medical personnel need to be trained in the requirements for helicopter landing zones and in guiding helicopters.

  • A primary consideration for an aid station site is the availability of space for an LZ, particularly in MOUT.

  • Intermediate casualty transfer points reduce unit medic turnaround time and speed evacuation time for wounded soldiers.

  • Paramilitary forces, such as DIGBATs and PDF deserters, did not recognize the red crosses on ambulances. Evacuation vehicles/aircraft should be escorted whenever possible.

  • Units must be prepared to treat civilian casualties. Planning needs to address which supplies will be expended and how to quickly resupply units experiencing mass casualties.

  • A plan for civilian MEDEVAC and collection points must be developed. Treatment centers must be established, staffed and supplied in conjunction with local authorities.

Table of Contents, Volume III
Communications Equipment
Lessons Learned - Logistics & Equipment: Combat Vehicles

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