This foam could save your life
Oregon Army National Guard medevac unit trains with Canadian armed forces during Maple Resolve 2015. Credit: Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office
Countless military lives could be saved in the future thanks to a new remarkable foam.
Made by Arsenal Medical and fittingly dubbed ResQ Foam, this remarkable innovation rapidly expands inside the body and seals off the wound.
Bleeding to death is the leading cause of fatalities on the battlefield, according to the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research. So the US military has long been searching for a solution that would let combat medics stabilize patients for transport to field hospitals.
The foam has enormous potential for civilians as well. EMTs responding to a gunshot wound to the abdomen, for example, could immediately apply the foam to help buy time to get the victim to surgical care.
(Credit: ResQFoam YouTube)
In combat, immediate evacuation of the wounded to surgical care is seldom possible. Rescue and evacuation can take quite a while and many warfighters bleed out before there is a chance for them to reach a trauma surgeon.
So how does it work?
The foam doesn’t repair the injury. Instead, ResQ Foam (which must be injected) stabilizes the wounded in the field and buys time to surgical care. By doing so, it greatly improves the chances of survival.
The injector looks like the sort of device you would use to caulk a bathtub. It is designed so that two chemicals mix and this triggers the foam to activate.
Once the foam is injected in the abdomen, it rapidly expands. It can expand to an astonishing 35 times the original volume.
Inside the body, the foam envelops the wounded’s internal organs and stops the bleeding.
The foam buys the patient about three more hours to get to a surgeon – this can be the critical difference between life and death.
When the wounded reaches a surgeon, the ResQ foam can be easily removed.
Saving American warfighters
In the future, ResQ Foam has the potential to save countless military lives.
During a ten-year period between 2001 and 2011 with nearly 5,000 lives lost, more than 90 percent were due to hemorrhage that could have potentially been survivable, according to a study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
More than 67 percent were related to hemorrhaging from a wound or wounds on the truncal part of the body.
Currently, this is an incredibly difficult part of the body for medics to treat. Many of these wounds cannot be accessed by regular combat medic methods like direct compression.
At this time, most of the hemostatic options are powders or bandages. To be effective, these require the ability to see the wound and manually compress – and so tend to be ineffective for truncal wounds.
Since combat medics cannot access and treat many of these wounds, rapid blood loss can often lead to death on the battlefield before the warfighter could reach a surgeon.
Innovation like ResQ Foam could provide the solution to preventing these deaths in the future.
When will it reach battlefields?
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began the wound stasis program in 2010 seeking a solution to this tough challenge of major abdominal bleeding due to trauma. After very promising early results, the project transitioned to the Army in 2015.
This year, ResQ Foam received an Investigational Device Exemption from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity will be providing support for the project. The key clinical trial is expected to begin next year.
Allison Barrie is a defense specialist with experience in more than 70 countries who consults at the highest levels of defense and national security, a lawyer with four postgraduate degrees, and author of the definitive guide, Future Weapons: Access Granted, on sale in 30 countries. Barrie hosts the new hit podcast “Tactical Talk” where she gives listeners direct access to the most fascinating Special Operations warriors each week and to find out more about the FOX Firepower host and columnist you can click here or follow her on Twitter @allison_barrie and Instagram @allisonbarriehq.