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Air Force veterinarian discusses military medicine


August 23. 2013 6:55AM
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LIMA — A former Ohio veterinarian whose skills have taken him far in the Air Force was in Lima on Tuesday to talk about military medicine.Col. Donald L. Noah is the deputy commander of the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, which is nearly finished moving to Wright Patterson Air Force Base from San Antonio.Speaking before his presentation, Noah said military medicine has contributed a great deal to civilian medicine. Historically, the similarities have contributed to public health.Biological warfare response is the same as any epidemic response, he said. “Initially, you neither know, nor care, whether it is intentional or accidental. Your response is the same either way,” he said. Since the 1950s, the military has been training medical personnel in epidemic response, he said.The military leads the way in ambulatory care, he said. “I like to brag about this. If you are shot or blown up in Iraq or Afghanistan and you live for two minutes, you're going to live,” Noah said.“We're gonna get you out of there. In most cases we're going to get you back to duty. But at least we're going to bring you home, and we're going to bring you back to a productive life. Our survival rate is unbelievably high.”Unlike the days of Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, injured soldiers are shipped out right away, instead of being stabilized in the field.“Now we're stabilizing you in flight and we're doing surgery in flight,” Noah said. If you've had vision corrective surgery, thank the military.The School of Aerospace Medicine devised the first Lasik machine, he said.“Military medicine is driving civilian medicine. It used to be the other way around,” he said. “We're finding that the military has experience that the civilian medical world never had.”And the military gives back in other ways, he said.Military trauma surgery training sites in Baltimore, St. Louis and Cincinnati treat civilians between classes at no charge, he said.Recent facial transplants have been made possible by military funding and research, he said.“We are pioneering it,” he said. “One of the things that the military does that is approaching bionic medicine is tissue regeneration.”Muscle cells from injured soldiers can be harvested and regrown in a dish.“In a couple hours you have 50 percent greater strength in that thigh muscle,” he said.The treatment can work on noninjured people too.“Maybe the NFL wants to hear about that,” he said. “Maybe a professional cyclist.”Medical advances also mean more illnesses are found in people who would have been deemed healthy. “We are redefining zero,” he said. “Because of modern medicine, we're going to find something wrong with you. We're getting better at learning what we can live with.”So, how does a veterinarian get to lead at an Air Force medical school.“We are not physicians and we don't pretend to be,” he said. “But to a certain extent, meat is meat, diseases are diseases, and disease response is disease response.”So, the Air Force uses the skills of veterinarians in addition to physicians for a couple of reasons.“First, most diseases on this planet affect man and animals,” he said. “And second of all, we're cheaper.”






Air Force veterinarian discusses military medicine


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