Battlefield casualties treated at camp rhino, afghanistan: Lessons learned

Tracy R. Bilski, Bruce C. Baker, Jay R. Grove, Robert P. Hinks, Michael J. Harrison, John P. Sabra, Steven M. Temerlin, Peter Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Background Operation Enduring Freedom is an effort to combat terrorism after an attack on the United States. The first large-scale troop movement (> 1,300) was made by the U.S. Marines into the country of Afghanistan by establishing Camp Rhino. Methods Data were entered into a personal computer at Camp Rhino, using combat casualty collecting software. Results Surgical support at Camp Rhino consisted of two surgical teams (12 personnel each), who set up two operating tables in one tent. During the 6-week period, a total of 46 casualties were treated, and all were a result of blast or blunt injury. One casualty required immediate surgery, two required thoracostomy tube, and the remainder received fracture stabilization or wound care before being transported out of Afghanistan. The casualties received 6 major surgical procedures and 11 minor procedures, which included fracture fixations. There was one killed in action and one expectant patient. The major problem faced was long delay in access to initial surgical care, which was more than 5 hours and 2 hours for two of the casualties. Conclusion Smaller, more mobile surgical teams will be needed more frequently in future military operations because of inability to set up current larger surgical facilities, and major problems will include long transport times. Future improvements to the system should emphasize casualty evacuation, en-route care, and joint operations planning between services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-822
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Trauma
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Afghanistan
  • Casualties
  • Enduring freedom
  • Fleet Hospital
  • Marine
  • Operations
  • Surgery
  • Tent
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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