U.S. ARMY INSTITUTE OF SURGICAL RESEARCH
"Optimizing Combat Casualty Care"
West Point cadet Sgt. Matthew P. Altamirano was at the ISR for more than three weeks learning about combat casualty research and how tourniquets play a role in saving wounded warriors on the battlefield. Photo by Steven Galvan

West Point cadet Sgt. Matthew P. Altamirano was at the ISR for more than three weeks learning about combat casualty research and how tourniquets play a role in saving wounded warriors on the battlefield. Photo by Steven Galvan

West Point cadet learns combat casualty care

By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
2 JULY 2014


As upcoming future U.S. Army commissioned officers, West Point cadets are educated and rigorously trained through drills designed to shape them into top-notch leaders. Cadets like third-year Sergeant Matthew P. Altamirano is becoming a leader of character who will someday inspire and motivate the Soldiers he will be in charge of. The long hours of drills, physical training and education will serve the cadet well when he graduates from the academy. But the knowledge and experience that he has gained does not only come from within the boundaries of West Point. Every summer the cadets spend a few weeks to get some “real Army” experience throughout Army commands around the world.

This year the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, hosted Altamirano where he got some hands on experience in combat casualty care research—specifically on tourniquets. Altamirano spent his time at the ISR under the mentorship of retired Col., Dr. John F. Kragh, an orthopedic surgeon/tourniquet researcher and a 1985 West Point graduate. Kragh said that the experience and exposure that cadets get during the summer is invaluable in many ways.

“West Point is great at training cadets on Army stuff,” he said. “They have to go out and experience firsthand what is available for them once they leave the academy so that they can determine what career path they want to follow.”

When Altamirano graduates from West Point he will have earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He agrees with Kragh and said the experience he has gained at the ISR has given him a new perspective on what career path he’d like to follow.

“I’ve learned a lot about tourniquets and the research process,” said Altamirano. “I had no idea how important combat casualty care research is and how it’s all conducted for the combat wounded. I am now considering the medical corps when I’m active duty.”

The New Mexico native said he decided to attend West Point to serve his country and follow his dad’s footsteps.

“It’s exciting to think that when I graduate I will be leading Soldiers,” he said. “My family is very proud of me.”

Altamirano left the ISR in late July to commence his junior year at West Point. He said he was grateful for the experience and training that he received while at the ISR. After spending about three weeks learning about tourniquets and how they work, he feels confident that he will know how to apply one if ever needed in the future.

“I had very little exposure to tourniquets before coming here,” said Altamirano. “It’s good to know how to apply them and how they work. It has been an awesome experience.”