While finishing my residency, I joined the U.S. Army Reserve. I have been deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Kuwait. Those experiences prepared me for the job I have now. Taking care of people injured in combat is often similar to taking care of patients in wild, remote places. You have to act quickly, you often don’t have the tools you’d have at a hospital, and you face dangers that affect how you care for patients.
I’ve adapted some of what I learned in the military treating combat injuries to a nonmilitary setting. For example, tourniquets can be real lifesavers. These devices, which you wrap around an injured limb and tighten to stop people from bleeding to death, can make a huge difference for patients when you’re far from a hospital. Tourniquets don’t weigh a lot, so they’re easily portable, making them great tools for wilderness medicine.