Medics bring patient monitoring tool to battlefield

The U.S. Air Force has developed a new electronic patient monitoring tool that runs on mobile devices, enabling medics to treat battlefield casualties by pulling patients’ health status information from sensors and providing medics with critical data in real time.

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, the device is worn on the wrist to enable pararescue jumpers—who are responsible for providing emergency and life-saving services—to monitor the vital signs of multiple patients simultaneously.

The Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK) leverages mobile technology as well as patient information collected from a wide variety of commercially available sensors approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

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To ensure that the tool could withstand the rigors of combat, Air Force researchers were embedded on live missions with pararescue jumpers to meet the stringent requirements for performing operations in austere environments. Air Force pararescue personnel are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military.

“From day one, every interface, every button, every menu, was user-validated by pararescue Airmen and combat rescue officers that were involved in the design, integration and testing process,” said Gregory Burnett of the Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division of the 711th Human Performance Wing, who managed the development of BATDOK.

Burnett says that, in addition to providing real-time health status monitoring for multiple patients, BATDOK’s capabilities and features include:

  • A documentation tool
  • User-definable medical library
  • Portal to integrate patients’ data into their electronic health records
  • Interoperability with battlefield digital situation awareness maps to identify exact locations of casualties

“We physically left the lab, got into the field with the operators and observed firsthand the challenges and deficiencies they face,” added Burnett. “And when I say into the field, I mean we literally rode in the helicopters into hot landing zones, and observed medical Airmen stabilize and package up patients for transport and load them back on the helicopter.”

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