The University of Missouri has been awarded a $5.3 million Department of Defense grant to head up a study of how combat medics are trained.

The University has established a Combat Casualty Training Consortium (MU CCTC). It is one of two groups in the US formed to look at current training and make recommendations for how it should be conducted in the future.

Dr. Stephen Barnes heads up MU's Combat Casualty Training Consortium, which will study things like the use of training mannequins to prepare combat medics.

The primary investigator of MU’s team is Doctor Stephen Barnes, MD. He is also the chief of the division of acute care surgery at the University’s School of Medicine. He says the group will focus on determining what works best and proposing a standardized method to the Department of Defense. Right now, the Doctor says there are variances in training based on a facility’s available resources and expertise, and in which branch of the military it is taking place.

The DOD has requested the study. It wants three main focus areas studied: hemorrhage control, airway management and emergency medical skills. Within each of those areas are smaller subgroups, where Doctor Barnes says the group will look at specific combat lifesaving procedures and determine how to teach those to a new medic.

One of the biggest issues to be considered is how training for a combat environment should be handled: what is the best way to introduce it, in what environment and what would best mimic what a wounded soldier looks like? Doctor Barnes thinks it is often forgotten that combat medics must work in the field or in tents where conditions are dirty, resources are limited, and often he or she is being fired upon.

With that in mind, about half his team is made up of senior medics who have been deployed multiple times and have experience performing lifesaving procedures during battle. That includes Barnes, who in the Air Force was assigned to a joint DOD training program in Cincinnati; the Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills. He provided critical and surgical care to troops in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The grant covers two years of work and Barnes says its schedule is aggressive. It met for two days this week.

AUDIO:  Hear Mike Lear’s interview with Dr. Stephen Barnes – 13:20