Paper| Volume 23, ISSUE 7, P448-450, 1992

Resuscitation in northern Iraq

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      The principles of Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) were adopted by a Royal Navy surgical team deployed to northern Iraq. Over a 6-week period, 18 casualties of both military and civil trauma required active resuscitation, 10 being under the age of 16 years. Triage of multiple casualties was necessary on three occasions. Two patients died. It was difficult to exclude cervical spine injury. Venous cut-down was frequently unsuccessful, so that internal jugular vein cannulation was life-saving. Crystalloid was used as the primary infusion without apparent disadvantage. Cross-matched blood was unavailable and one patient died with haemolysis after massive transfusion. Hypothermia was a problem despite the high environmental temperature. Laboratory and radiological facilities were extremely limited. Non-medical staff were trained most effectively to assess vital signs, although sophisticated monitors became available. These problems are discussed and compared with previous experience. Recommendations are made to improve future outcome.
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