Mastering Battlefield Care with DARPA's Automated Resuscitation Tools

Mastering Battlefield Care with DARPA's Automated Resuscitation Tools

I. Origin of the Need

Severe battlefield injuries require prompt surgical intervention to save lives. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) refers to the critical initial 60 minutes after injury as the "Golden Hour." Rapid evacuation to surgical facilities within this time frame has significantly increased the survival rate of wounded soldiers in recent military conflicts. However, the U.S. military anticipates that during future large-scale combat operations (LSCO), it may not be possible to evacuate the wounded to surgical facilities within this crucial window.

Currently, maintaining the stability of a wounded soldier's condition before surgical care is theoretically possible (e.g., through critical care air transport teams equipped with advanced lifesaving equipment). However, these methods require expert teams and a full set of basic life-support equipment such as resuscitation pumps and ventilators. These solutions are unsuitable for battlefield use, where there is a lack of medical experts and where large equipment cannot be deployed due to the harsh combat environment and logistical challenges.


II.DARPA project Description and Goals

To address the unmet needs of battlefield casualty care in LSCO, DARPA launched the GOLDEVAC program in March 2024. This program invites research institutions and companies to develop and test automated resuscitation tools that enable field medical personnel to manage complex multi-trauma casualties, starting from the point of injury and throughout the evacuation process.

Specifically, the GOLDEVAC program aims to determine whether a single intravascular catheter can sustain resuscitation and oxygenation for up to two days. This catheter, using intravascular and gas exchange technologies, would manage complex trauma patients for 48 hours. It would perform oxygenation, medication infusion, fluid/blood resuscitation, and biological fluid sampling while controlling the risks of thrombosis or bleeding. The insertion site for this single vascular interface must be relatively small (less than 5 millimeters) and suitable for safe and reliable insertion by field medical personnel (typically medics). Additionally, it should provide a physical interface to monitor and manage critically injured patients.

If successful, GOLDEVAC will act as a force multiplier for battlefield medical care, enhancing the ability to treat combat injuries across various mission types, from small remote operations to large-scale conflicts with peer/near-peer adversaries. "Historically, U.S. combat personnel have had access to medical infrastructure, enabling relatively rapid evacuation and early intervention, but we expect such capabilities to be lacking in LSCO," said Lt. Col. Adam Willis, GOLDEVAC Program Manager. "GOLDEVAC aims to bridge the gap between future casualty care needs and current capabilities, ensuring that wounded personnel can be stabilized effectively and safely from the point of injury through the entire evacuation process."

III. Support Available to the Research and Development Team

Throughout the project, applicants will have the opportunity to collaborate with various government agencies to support the commercialization of the GOLDEVAC system. This collaboration aims to ensure that the developed technology can be procured by the military, marketed commercially, or both. The researchers will work with relevant regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), to ensure that the developed product meets or exceeds regulatory safety standards. The team may also need to consult with experts in fields such as ethics, law, and sociology to address any related issues encountered during product development.


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