Battlefield medicine is a medical field that is aimed at treating soldiers wounded on the field of battle. It is a subfield of military medicine in general that specifically treats wounds in or near combat rather than in hospitals after combat. Most of the wounds treated in battlefield medicine are traumatic, combat-related injuries such as gunshot or shrapnel wounds. Effective battlefield medical treatment relies on a variety of factors including the skill of medics, the medical equipment available, and the possibility of evacuation to a more stable treatment center.
Many traumatic wounds sustained on the battlefield can be deadly in a matter of minutes without proper treatment from medical professionals. Controlling bleeding as quickly as possible is one of the most important aspects of such treatment. Stabilizing patients, controlling bleeding, and preventing contamination within a short time of injury is often essential for giving wounded soldiers a chance at survival. More complex injuries can be treated at nearby medical stations. In some battlefield medicine cases, specialists from military hospitals are able to provide remote video or telephone assistance to battlefield medics.
The training of battlefield medics is a highly important part of battlefield medicine. Such medics are expected to be able to conduct a variety of different medical procedures while under the extreme pressure of combat. They must be able to provide fast and appropriate medical care, often while protecting themselves or trying to remove their patients from danger.
Getting injured soldiers away from the battlefield is a major part of battlefield medicine. Military medicine in general often offers varying levels of care based on distance from the battlefield. Medics provide emergency care in combat before working to evacuate injured soldiers. Somewhere behind the combat lines, there are often stationary medical facilities for the continued treatment of wounds. Permanent treatment facilities may exist still farther from combat. Particularly severe injuries that require long-term treatment may require complete evacuation to permanent hospitals.
Over the course of history, battlefield medicine has led to many important advancements in civilian medicine. Many methods of blood transportation and transfusion, for instance, originated or were perfected in battlefield settings. Some medicine-related techniques such as medical evacuation with ambulances or helicopters were also greatly improved through use in battlefield medicine. The reverse is also sometimes true. Advancements in civilian medicine have been known to contribute valuable new techniques and technologies to the field of battlefield medicine.