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J Trauma. 2004 Aug;57(2):201-7.

A U.S. Army Forward Surgical Team's experience in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Department of Surgery, Reynolds Army Community Hospital, Fort Sill, Oklahoma 73505, USA.



The Forward Army Surgical Team (FST) was designed to provide surgical capability far forward on the battlefield to stabilize and resuscitate those soldiers with life and limb threatening injuries. Operation Iraqi Freedom represents the largest military operation in which the FST concept of health care delivery has been employed. The purpose of our review is to describe the experience of the 555FST during the assault phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom.


During the 23 days beginning 21 March 2003, data on all patients seen by the 555 FST were recorded. These data included combatant status, injuries according to anatomic location, and operative procedures performed.


During the twenty-three day period, the 555 FST evaluated 154 patients. There were 52 EPWs, 79 U.S. soldiers, and 23 Iraqi civilians treated. Injuries to the lower extremity and chest (48% and 25%) were the most common in the EPW group. Upper extremity and lower extremity injuries were the most common in the civilian (57% and 39%) and U.S. soldier groups (32% and 30%). The number of injured regions per patient were 1.14 for U.S. soldiers, 1.33 for EPWs, and 1.52 for Iraqi civilians (p < 0.003). EPWs had proportionately more thoracic and abdominal injuries than the other groups (p < 0.05).


Majority of the life threatening injuries evaluated involved EPWs. A combination of body armor and armored vehicles used by U.S. soldiers limited the number of torso injuries presenting to the FST. Early resuscitation and stabilization of U.S. soldiers, EPWs, and civilians can be successfully accomplished at the front lines by FSTs. Further modification of the FST's equipment will be needed to improve its ability in providing far forward surgical care.

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