U.S. ARMY INSTITUTE OF SURGICAL RESEARCH
"Optimizing Combat Casualty Care"
The Battlefield Health and Trauma (BHT) Research Institute has been operating at Fort Sam Houston, Texas since August 2010 as part of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).

The Battlefield Health and Trauma (BHT) Research Institute has been operating at Fort Sam Houston, Texas since August 2010 as part of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Photo by Steven Galvan

Battlefield Health and Trauma Research Institute:
Optimizing Combat Casualty Care

By Steven Galvan, Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research
06 FEB 2012


The Battlefield Health and Trauma (BHT) Research Institute has been operating at Fort Sam Houston, Texas since August 2010 as part of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The BHT is composed of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR), Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) San Antonio and the Air Force Dental Evaluation and Consultation Service (DECS).

Before the collocation of the tri-service BHT, the Air Force DECS was located at Great Lakes, Ill., and two units (the combat casualty care research sub-function of the Naval Medical Research Center from Forest Glen, Md., and the Naval Institute for Dental and Biochemical Research from Great Lakes, Ill.) joined to create NAMRU San Antonio.

Also as part of BRAC 2005, the ISR (collocated with the Brook Army Medical Center and the site of the BHT) gained the combat casualty care research sub-function of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the Army Dental Trauma Research Detachment (a subordinate command to the ISR), both from Forest Glen, Md., and the Army Medical Research Detachment from Brooks City-Base, Texas.

BRAC is the method that the DoD uses to reorganize its installation infrastructure to more efficiently and effectively support forces, increase operational readiness and facilitate new ways of doing business. “The BHT was created to remove redundancy and create a synergy in combat casualty care research,” said Col. (Dr.) Lorne H. Blackbourne, Commander of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research.

“We’ve been able to do that and we’re always looking at ways that we can optimize combat casualty care.”

The Commander of the Dental Trauma and Research Detachment, Col. (Dr.) Robert G. Hale agrees that collocating the Army, Navy and Air Force in one area has been beneficial to combat casualty care research. “There’s no way that we could have done the scope of research that we are doing today if we would have remained in different geographical locations,” he said. “It has changed our mission and scope of what we can do.”

The ISR Director of Research, Combat Casualty Care, David G. Baer, Ph.D., said that the proximity of the research units has opened the opportunities for future research projects. “Bringing the units together to the same campus has increased our abilities to work together and has increased our awareness of each other’s research focus,” said Baer.

“It has led to collaboration on many projects that have saved time and money to create effectiveness.”

Combat casualty care research projects that are being worked together include studies of pre-hospital and en-route patient care from the battlefield. Of the many pre-hospital collaborative studies being conducted at the BHT, some of these studies include tourniquets and other devices to stop hemorrhage, automated monitoring and decision support devices for battlefield critical care, burn resuscitation for the combat injured and devices to keep patients warm.

“Working together gives us the potential to improve combat casualty care,” said Blackbourne. “Everything that we are doing is for the combat wounded. The future of combat casualty care is a joint venture to effectively accelerate innovation and provide world class care to combat casualties.”