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The Incredible Story of the World’s 1st Illegal Underwater Surgery

Doc Lipes Performs an appendectomy on a Submarine by Artist John Falter

I don’t know how other branches instill passion in their medics, but in the US Navy it’s done by telling the legends of our craft. The heroes who’ve gone before us to set the example and show us what being a combat medic means.

One of these who inspired me early in my career was the story of Pharmacist’s Mate 1st Class Wheeler Lipes, who, while at sea and underwater in enemy territory, preformed an illegal surgery that saved the life of his shipmate.

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If You Don’t Already Know, Here’s the Theory on Pressure Dressings:

If you have a good understanding on how to use your gear, it frees you up to think outside the box and come up with solutions to problems you might face in an emergency.

Everyone wants to be that person who saves the day, calm, cool, and collected while the world goes to hell around them. It’s an admirable trait and one anyone can cultivate with a little practice.

Part of that journey includes having a good understanding of your gear. If you know how to use what you’ve got, your effectiveness and efficiency (both essential for saving lives) skyrocket.

Here’s a brief run-down of what a pressure dressing is and why you need one (or a dozen) in your trauma kit:

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Daydreams Helped Me in Combat. The Science:

You might’ve gotten into trouble for it in school, but daydreaming can be great for your survival.

I learned this the hard way as a method of keeping myself present in the rocky hills of Afghanistan. While on patrol with my fireteam, it was easy for my mind to wander back to what must be happening in the normal world instead of focused on the dangers around me.

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Is a “High and Tight” Tourniquet Wrong?

“If the tourniquet isn’t high and tight, you’re wrong.”

While this isn’t wrong advice, it’s important to understand where this tourniquet procedure came from and why we’re constantly being told to place the TQ as high up on the limb as possible.

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Rangers Lead the Way with Innovative War Medicine

75th Ranger Regiment Medic
Photo: U.S. Army

History was made by Staff Sergeant Charles Bowen and Sergeant Ty Able one long night in Afghanistan when they utilized a brand-new procedure developed by the Army to keep our nations warriors in the fight.

The Ranger O Low Titer (or ROLO as the troops know it), uses a live donor to supply combat medics with a fresh supply of blood on the battlefield.

Bowen and Able were conducting operations with their unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in the Wardak province of Afghanistan in the summer of 2019.

Work for the medics began after the Rangers were attempting to dislodge a barricaded shooter. Three soldiers were injured by an explosion and the two units of blood every Ranger medic carries was quickly used up treating the casualties.

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Extraction: How to Patch Yourself Like a Badass

Disclaimer**

This article contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, go check it out first so I don’t ruin it for you.

When I was a kid, my dad, a career firefighter, used to stand in the doorway of the kitchen when we watched movies and point out all the fake parts, then carefully detail the way it works in real life.

At the time, I appreciated his thoughts on the movie even less than the rattlesnake stew he made once as an experiment.

Sometimes you don’t want to know how that explosion would have really looked, you just want to enjoy a good film and block out the real world for a bit. Reader beware.

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