U.S. Military In Afghanistan May Rethink 'Golden Hour' Evacuations


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military in Afghanistan may be rethinking its so-called 'golden hour' policy of evacuating wounded troops off the battlefield to major trauma centers within sixty minutes of being injured, an official said Wednesday.

The idea is being pushed by Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, who just returned from Afghanistan. He was told by medical personnel there they want more flexibility in the system.

"He did indeed hear from several who suggested that getting a wounded servicemember to 'the right facility at the right time' may be more critical than meeting the 'golden hour' threshold," Conway's spokesman, Maj. David Nevers, told CNN. Conway now plans to forward those ideas to top Pentagon leaders and medical personnel.

"The commandant made clear that from his perspective, the key is to stabilize the wounded as soon as possible," Nevers said.

Medical personnel have said they would like the flexibility to keep the critically wounded at field locations for longer than one hour to stabilize them before sending them to major trauma centers in places like Bagram Air Base.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates had made it a top priority in recent months to send more medical helicopters and medics into Afghanistan to cut down on the evacuation time for wounded troops, which in some cases had approached nearly two hours.

The number of wounded troops has risen sharply in recent months as more U.S. troops have gone to Afghanistan. According to the Pentagon, more than 350 troops have been injured so far in August. The lowest number of injured troops this year was 27 in February.

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