Blast Injury Database Created By National Guard

December 5, 2008

The National Guard has created a database to track Soldiers with blast injuries, which will hopefully improve the care they receive, both in the short-term and the long-term. The idea came when Army National Guard Director Lt. General Clyde Vaughn contacted Lt. Col. Maureen Weigl to Camp Victory to investigate how National Guard members who were exposed to blasts from IEDs or mortar fire were being tracked after their injury. During the course of her investigation, Weigel discovered that there was no long-term blast tracking in place.

“We hadn’t been linking personnel to blast events,” Weigl, project officer with the Army National Guard office for personnel blast/containment tracker. “A lot of Soldiers don’t show symptoms right away.”1

The new database began being put to use in October, in the research and development phase of the project. While it was created by the National Guard, it’s designed to be used by all branches of the military, both active duty and guard or reserve. Currently the database is being briefed to surgeons and sergeant majors and is being included in the MODS or Medical Operational Data System. It will be able to be accessed by all services as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs.2

This will be a great tool for medical personnel in the field in the combat zones, to assess if a Soldier displaying certain symptoms might have been exposed to a blast of some sort in the past. It will also be very helpful in the future, if a Soldier, say five years from the time of exposure, begins displaying symptoms can be identified as being exposed to blasts and can receive the appropriate medical care.

“Documenting this information ensures quality of care if they develop symptoms,” Weigl said. “Having the documentation available to providers will give them the opportunity to treat the issues. Many Soldiers don’t remember how many times they were exposed.”

This information can be especially important to National Guard and Reserve Soldiers who return to their local communities after deployment and may not have the same access to military medical care that their active duty counterparts do. By tracking Soldiers in the vicinity of a blast incident, who may not immediately show symptoms, it will assist the military in determining future pay and allowance allotments, if the Soldier later develops symptoms from the exposure. Currently, servicemembers who are involved in an IED detonation or explosion are required to receive a mild acute concussive evaluation or MACE. Often though, those who are exposed, but maybe not in the immediate vicinity, may slip through the cracks. The database might help to improve MACEs, ensuring that everyone in the area of the blast, completes one.

“They, I’m looking at the report. 15 people were in the impact area, only five servicemembers showed up for the evaluation.”3

While the new database will be an invaluable tool in tracking and treating servicemembers who may later require care due to exposure to a blast or explosion. HIPA regulations will be followed and the new database will not include classified information.

I can see this database becoming a very valuable tool, as our Soldiers return home and are being treated for injuries they’ve received in combat. I think it’s a tool that should be mandated to be used across the entire military health care spectrum.

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