Military medical care lacking

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Military medical care lacking

It is disheartening and shocking to learn that soldiers’ lives are at risk because there aren’t trained medical professionals at military hospitals to treat soldiers wounded from serious firearm or explosive incidents.

Staff Sgt. Ha Jae-hun was carried to the Armed Forces Capital Hospital, the country’s largest military hospital, in Seongnam after land mines planted by North Korea exploded Aug. 4, inside the demilitarized zone.

Although he was in life-threateningly critical condition, demanding immediate surgery to prevent further infection, he had to be transferred to a private hospital because there weren’t specialists capable of operating on him.

Over the last month, five soldiers wounded from gunshot and explosion wounds were treated at private hospitals, and one was operated on in a military hospital after calling in surgeons from an outside private hospital.

It is ridiculous that the country’s largest hospital exclusive for soldiers cannot treat firearm wounds - the most common injury among soldiers - and only serves to transport patients to other hospitals.

Casualties from gunshots or blasts can happen any time during training as well as contingency situations. Military service physicians must be equipped with all necessary clinical and medical supplies to treat victims on the field.

Surgeons who aren’t active also must be prepared for any complicated operations or acute care. The military medical command should install a casualty emergency center to allow the wounded to be treated quickly and the military doctors to build more field experience treating firearm injuries. Soldiers must feel that they are in safe hands and can get the best possible care, even if they’re hurt.

Emergency action and fast transport of the wounded can be life-saving for victims with severe injuries before surgery. Frontline soldiers and doctors must be trained regularly on first-aid treatment and response.

Soldiers must also be equipped with more detailed individual first-aid and rescue packages. Ambulances and rescue vehicles must be sufficient. Hospital helicopters also should be ready to fly to any part of the Korean Peninsula.

Each division of the U.S. Armed Forces, for example, reserves six helicopters for emergency transport. Revamping the military medical care system is essential to strengthen our military capabilities.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 18, Page 34

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