Wars are never fought in clean, sterile environments, and it’s a constant battle for medics or TCCC personnel to cleanly treat a gunshot wound under fire.
Traditional packing gauze can unravel in the dirt or have dust and mud kicked up on it as it’s being applied and forced inside the soldier’s wound. Even if the wound is packed properly, having someone else’s fingers cramming material into a fresh gunshot wound doesn’t feel the greatest, and it doesn’t always stop the bleeding. This prompted U.S. Special Operations Medic John Steinbaugh to think outside the box and invent the XSTAT.
The device works by injecting 1 centimetre circular sponges directly into a gun shot wound. When the sponges hit blood, they immediately expand filling the cavity and applying pressure to the artery.
Steinbaugh has treated his fair share of gunshot wounds after being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over a dozen times. ”Gauze bandages just don’t work for anything serious,” said Steinbaugh. After retiring Steinbaugh joined an Oregon based startup company named RevMedx which is composed of veterans, engineers and scientists who have been looking for a better way to stop bleeding.
At first the team experimented with standard hardware store sponges cut up into 1 centimeter circles. During the initial test on an animal, the bleeding stopped immediately and the team knew they had something special. The U.S. Army was so impressed by the prototypes that they gave the team $5 million to create a finished product.
Steinbaugh’s team found that the greatest challenge was finding a way to actually insert the sponges into the wound. Combat medics already carry the same, if not more weight then an average infanteer, so they knew that this device needed to be light and compact. The syringe is 30 millimeters in diameter and made from polycarbonate, which has the handle stored internally to save space. It is estimated that 3 XSTAT syringes will replace 5 rolls of gauze in a medic’s kit.
When a medic needs to use the device, they pull the plunger out, insert it into the wound, then pushes the plunger down to inject the sponges as close to the artery as possible.
The team now has the full support of the U.S. Military, who have asked the FDA to expedite the approval process so that they can deploy this new technology ASAP.
“I spent the whole war on terror in the Middle East, so I know what a medic needs when someone has been shot, ” says Steinbaugh. “I’ve treated lots of guys who would have benefited from this product. That’s what drives me.”
Do you think this new technology will be implemented in the field any time soon, and how do you think it will compare to standard packing gauze? Discuss in the comments below.