Army bracelet aims to save wounded soldiers’ lives

IDF cadets have created a prototype of digital jewelry to help track treatments wounded soldiers undergo

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Soldiers wounded in combat in Gaza are led to the emergency room at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, after being evacuated from the field by helicopter, on July 25, 2014. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)
Soldiers wounded in combat in Gaza are led to the emergency room at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, after being evacuated from the field by helicopter, on July 25, 2014. (Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

Wounded soldiers are often treated on site and under difficult emergency conditions when they are in war zones or undertaking military operations. They receive the immediate, first response attention from medics at the site and then are removed from the war zone to other locations for additional treatment. Only later are they actually moved to hospitals, often via helicopter.

During that arduous journey to safety, these soldiers are patched up, treated and dealt with by a number of medical professionals who are also likely treating many other wounded soldiers. These medics have just a few minutes to assess the situation, learn the circumstances of the injury and decide on the treatment. Often the information they receive about patients is incomplete, and at times, only via bloodstained scribbled notes of paper. The information that they pass on to the next doctor who will treat the injured soldiers is also often limited.

“Unlike in the civilian world, where the chain of treatment is generally limited to those in the ambulance and then the hospitals, soldiers get treated by a number of people under difficult circumstances,” said Major Nimrod Focsenianu, a commander in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and head of the advanced officer training course in the army’s C4I Signal Corps. “Twenty-five percent of soldier deaths globally could be avoided with more precise care, better treatment procedures.”

So now a team of cadets in an IDF advanced officer training course has come up with a prototype of digital medical bracelets that aims to solve this problem. The digital bracelet, which was built from scratch by the officers, but could be adapted to any of the digital bracelets available on the market, works with near-field communication technology, which enables two electronic devices to communicate.

IDF's digital bracelet developed by cadets (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson Unit)
IDF’s digital bracelet, developed by cadets (Courtesy, IDF Spokesperson Unit)

Emergency medical professionals in the army would carry sensors and the digital bracelets — and they would wrap them on the wounded soldiers they treat, updating information to the bracelet via their smartphones and the device’s sensors. The next professional to treat the patient would have access to all the information about what medical procedures had been done via the bracelet, as well as other essential information that can be made available digitally, like a picture of the injury or the scene where the accident occurred. This would help doctors attain a clear and quick assessment of the situation.

The prototype was developed in just 10 days, by a team of cyber, engineering and software cadets, as their final project for a new, three-month long, hands-on training course the C4I has started giving its officers in training.

Teams working on the IDF cadets's bracelet (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson Unit)
Teams working on the IDF cadets’s bracelet (Courtesy, IDF Spokesperson Unit)

“We ask the army what are its biggest needs on the ground. And then our trainees work together in teams to come up with solutions,” said Focsenianu. Working together in teams — from different backgrounds — alerts soldiers about the needs of the other, he said. “The engineers learn what the cyber-defense soldier requires, while the cyber security experts can see first-hand what difficulties the engineers are facing.”

A patient's vitals, as read by the IDF cadets' bracelet for wounded soldiers (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson Unit)
A patient’s vitals, as read by the IDF cadets’ bracelet for wounded soldiers (Courtesy IDF Spokesperson Unit)

The prototype is now being tried by medical teams within the army, and, if approved, it will be produced for use on the field, Focsenianu said. Meanwhile, feedback about the device has been very positive, he said. The next set of trainees will be getting a new project and a new challenge in February, he added.

“Working on these kinds of projects, the soldiers get a huge sense of empowerment because they realize how much can be done in just 10 days of working together,” Focsenianu, who has been in the army for 20 years, said. “If so much can be done in 10 days, then how much more will they be able to do in the five or six years of their service with the IDF.”

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