Thursday, December 15, 2005

One Possible Reason for Lower Death Tolls

I was wondering...

The death toll of American servicemen in Iraq is remarkably low, considering the type of fighting that is going on in Iraq and the casualty rate of previous wars.

Could this be a result of modern medicine?

Consider that during the Civil War, more soldiers died from infections of their injuries and diseases (like dysentery or pneumonia) than were killed outright. Sulfa drugs were introduced during WWI; penicillin in WWII. During the Korean War, M*A*S*H units were established and the art of triage and evacuating those who needed more thorough medical attention was begun. The state of aid delivered on the battlefield and the ability to get the seriously injured to first-rate hospitals where appropriate care can be given quickly is steadily improving.

Personnel whose injuries would have been fatal in a previous era are being saved through modern medicine. Their injuries may result in serious disability; they may face months of rehabilitation or require prosthesis or special accommodations. But they are alive.

I haven't seen this discussed on the blogs, military or otherwise, that I frequent. It would be interesting to compare the death toll vs. the injured. If my guess is correct, the current Iraq War would have a higher injury vs. death ratio than other Wars.

There is also a benefit to the non-military population as well. Techniques developed on the battlefield are put to use in urban emergency rooms. It's a hell of a way to learn, though.