Sunday 20 May 2012

Apps for Soldiers: Battlefield Trauma App on iPad

More and more iPads are being issued to soldiers, who find the Apple tablet an increasingly useful tool, off and on the Battlefield. This article is going to talk about a Battlefield Casualty Treatment app for iPad: Battlecare. 
I've used personal experience and military associates accounts for information and hope to give you an idea of where the idea of military apps for iPad are headed in the future. BattleCare is based on American soldier's experiences in Afghanistan, but authoritative sources I've used for info on this article are predominantly British Military in origin.

Realistic Battlefield Casualty treatment App
Firstly it really is no hype that soldiers are becoming more and more reliant on technology and that the iPad is swiftly becoming part of a modern soldier's deployment kit. Since mid 2011 British soldiers training at the Royal School of Artillery, the British army's Premier Artillery Training School have been issued with iPad's to help them with their lessons. Yes, even enlisted men have to have lessons! These are all of varying technical difficulty, ranging from the deployment parameters for Ballistic Protection radars, to exact measurements and explosive charges to be used in conducting high airburst artillery bombardments at distance. As Military equipment has become more complex , so has the need to learn about it's different aspects become crucial to its use. That's why an iPad with it's ease of use interfaces and big, bright touchscreen is a natural fit for soldiers' lessons and presentations.

Apps to replace IAMS; TAMs and
Soldier Crib Cards for Battlefield
Casualty Treatment
The specific military app that we are addressing in this article is to help medics and semi-trained medics save lives on the Battlefield. Just like any other military doctrine and literature, battlefield casualty saving drills are embodied in leaflets and handout given to British soldiers. Normally taking the current route of IAM's(Individual Aide Memoires) British soldiers will all be issued with a sturdy BCDT (Battlefield Casualty Drill Training) flipcard prior to any deployment. With easy to follow diagrams and flow charts these military First Aid Aide Memoires are expected to be deployed in high risk situations and used to save lives on the Battlefield. Of course they're a good idea, but considering that the average infantryman is loaded down with maps; routecards; ammunition check sheets; Language cards and other sensitive paper based Military documents, it's a bit unrealistic to expect this paper laden soldier to use his First Aid Crib cards to the best of his ability. 
That's where the idea of an iPad in a robust combat ready case comes into play. All of these pamphlets and literature giving soldiers useful war skills to draw on can all be encapsulated in iPad apps for ease of use. That's where the makers of BattleCare, CliniSpace come in with their First Aid App for soldiers.

BattleField First Aid App for iPad: BattleCare
The goal of the soldiers' app is to train in the basics of Battlefield Trauma Triage. With the essential question of which wounds are more life threatening to a soldier, Triage is the first stage (after supression of any enemy in the vicinity) of battlefield treatment, and of necessity must sort out soldiers needing immediate care and casevac to those who are still combat ready and might only have minor debilitating injuries. 
The setting for the app is Gardez on the Afghanistan border, and in the trauma learning app you'll play the role of Airman Collins, the duty Medic.

The app will guide you through the ABC (Airway ,Breathing ,Circulation) basics of treating a war casualty. A real trauma case is treated in the filed hospital and eventually casevaced from the area.
Where the app excels is in the gesture based interaction that asks you to use an army radio, mark triage tags and use essential life saving equipment.
Battlefield First Aid App: BCDT
What really impresses is that you won't just be selecting and dragging the medic's equipment to the desired position , but actually   using proper gestures like squeezing suction bulbs to drain blood and fluid and using finger swipe gestures to open the patients mouth to clear a blocked airway.

The graphics are realistic and show you the injuries of the patient in graphic detail, you're lead through the exploration of a soldier's injuries and taken through and evaluated on all the stages of treating a battlefield casualty.

The app really sets the benchmark for providing valid and relevant education to combat ready soldiers, and if the battlefield trauma app is anything to go by, I fully expect more app developers to be developing useful life saving and battle training  apps for soldiers.

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