KUALA LUMPUR: Half of soldiers killed in action died from loss of blood, while 80 per cent of them perished within the first hour of injury.
These are the shocking statistics provided by the Armed Forces’ Royal Medical and Dental Corps, based on studies and historical casualty rates.
Armed Forces Health Services Division director-general Lt-Gen Datuk Pahlawan Dr Md Amin Muslan revealed how important it was for an injured soldier to be administered treatment during that first hour, dubbed the ‘golden hour’.
“It is during this crucial period when prompt treatment to stop bleeding and first-aid resuscitation can possibly save the life of an injured soldier.
“This calls for a fully equipped ‘tactical combat casualty care’ field hospital with efficient logistics that can render timely transfusion of blood to the injured.
“Improper logistics support can cripple or even paralyse the military,” he warned at the opening of the ‘2nd Malaysian Military Medicine Conference’ at the Armed Forces Officers Mess in Jalan Tekpi.
The two-day conference, themed ‘Bloods in Battlefields: Advancing Health Services to the Frontline’, saw the participation of nearly 400 doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, paramedics and supporting staff.
Dr Amin said it was imperative for sufficient blood supply to be timely dispatched and administered to the patient.
“Blood can be likened to the importance of other logistic supplies in the Armed Forces. Having sufficient blood supply in one’s body will ensure vital oxygen, nutrition and medication gets delivered to the cells and tissues.
“Blood also contains antibodies and white blood corpuscels to fight infections, clotting to stop bleeding.
“Proper blood flow also ensures nitrogenous waste products, carbon dioxide and metabolised toxins get removed from the body,” he said.
Dr Amin added that through time and wars, military medicine had proven to be the strength of a strong nation and its people.
“Technological advancement has seen weaponry like battle tanks, machine guns, missiles and the use of chemical-biological-radiation-nuclear-and-explosives causing violent destruction during battles.
“It, however, also led to the accelerated development of modern medical tools where guns and cannons replaced swords and spears presenting surgeons with new wound types,” he said.
Dr Amin reiterated the importance of prompt trauma care for casualties, especially on the battle frontline, as it could affect the outcome of war.
“Improvements in healthcare efficiency have increased survival rates in successive battles.
“These include refined medical evacuation, haemorrhage control, wound and infection control, and blood storage, transport and transfusion,” said Dr Amin.
On another note, he said the corps had played a vital role in the survival of 1.3 million Rohingya refugees at Cox Bazar in Bangladesh, since December 2017.
“Our humanitarian disaster assistance programme has seen our field hospital there undertaking over 900 surgeries related with trauma and obstetric emergencies for the displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar.
“Through the Bangladesh Red Cross, we have managed to establish a first-hand field blood-bank by churning the refugees as donors themselves,” he said.