A portable X-ray machine is standard issue for every SpecialForces battalion, which is great, except for the machines aren't very portable.It takes a CH-47 Chinook heavy lifter to move one around, which makes them impracticalfor small combat outposts in Afghanistan'smore remote areas.
Enter the portable ultrasound machine. A small, laptop sizeddevice that weighs less than five pounds, runs offstandard radio batteries and at $40,000 a copy cost one third the price of anX-ray machine. Ultrasound machines use high frequency sound waves to peer deepinto the human body searching out fractures, collapsed lungs, blood in theabdomen, displaying veins, nerve bundles and of course babies, but thatwouldn't be as much use for special forces.
The Army's 1stBattalion, 3rd Special Forces group trained up 26 of their medics onthe machines before shipping off to Afghanistan where the new machines provedtheir worth and then some in their first combat deployment. Some enterprisingSF medics have developed a Special Operator-LevelClinical Ultrasound, or SOLCUS, and are spreading the gospel of the machine'sutility to small units deployed in remote locations.
"Usingportable ultrasound in theater is kind of like the guy who first decided to puta lid on a coffee cup - it just made sense," physician assistant Capt.William N. Vasios said. "So we used it, and we proved it." The planis to get the ultrasound machines and training into the hands of all the SFgroups.
To read more about SF and this new medical gadget click here.