Adam wants to make sure this video lives on to inspire and educate. It is the least we can do to host the video of his incident here where it can’t be taken down by subjective community standards. It his his story to tell in order to heal and educate. You don”t like this? Go elsewhere and do not watch this video. War is not pretty. This video is testament of that. This is meant to be shared, by the patient, for educational purposes. This video was initially posted by DJ struntz of North American Rescue who worked with Adam to represent his wounds and recovery in the most respectful way possible. I post this here in respect for his wishes with no financial disclosures. We are still privately funded and maintained by soldiers and law enforcement officers.
***Be aware that the following footage from the incident is GRAPHIC. If you can’t handle graphic footage, don’t watch this video.***
We would like to offer our profound thanks to Adam Hartswick and the crew of DUSTOFF 68 for sharing their story and hope that it will inspire and educate as many people as possible so that more lives are saved in the future.
Sgt. Adam Hartswick was deployed to Afghanistan with 3-41 Infantry, Alpha Company, when his life was forcefully altered by a devastating attack on his unit May 14, 2013.
“I was the company senior medic (68W) responding to an attack on our second platoon,” Adam said, recalling that day. “I wasn’t even supposed to go outside the wire that day. I had guard duty, but when I heard that my guys had been hit – I had to go.” Adam jumped into the back of a responding QRF vehicle and rushed to aid his teammates.
“When I arrived at the scene I immediately discovered that my junior platoon medic, SPC Cody Towse and two other Soldiers were dead.” After the initial explosion, Cody had rushed to aid SPC William Gilbert and SPC Mitch Daehling. William had been killed instantly in the blast, but Mitch was still alive and critically injured. As Cody attempted to treat Mitch, he placed his med ruck on the ground and triggered a second device that killed them both instantly. Cody was posthumously recognized for his heroism and awarded the Bronze Star.
Arriving on scene with the QRF, Adam worked to set up his CCP and treat the wounded.
Adam suffered minor injuries from another explosion but was able to continue his medic duties.
“I shook that off and went to retrieve him when I was blown up,” he said. “It felt like I got hit by a truck! My body was ringing like a tuning fork, but I was still conscious, so I treated myself. I was able to get one CAT (tourniquet) on good and tight but I was missing an index finger and putting that TQ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Thankfully the platoon leader was competent in TCCC and came to me (in spite of the danger of other IEDs) and applied a second CAT on my other leg and reassessed and tightened my initial tourniquet.” The blast from the IED had critically wounded Adam. “My body was a wreck – I had: bilateral transfemoral amputations, right index finger amputation, partial right thumb amputation, large lacerations on right arm, bilateral perforated eardrums, fractured right hip, mild TBI, various shrapnel wounds, and bruises all over my arms and legs. Somehow I had no torso trauma, no facial trauma.”
In what would later be recognized as the 2013 Dustoff Rescue of the Year, DUSTOFF 68, C/2-3 GSAB, Hunter AAF, GA (CPT Douglas Hill, 1LT Kelly Ward, SGT Robert Silva, SGT Jason Daniels, and SGT David Hixson), plucked Adam and a wounded teammate from the IED strewn battlefield and raced them to Role 3 care. Remarkably, despite having both legs being traumatically amputated, Adam remained conscious without any pain management until he reached the Role 3 OR where he continued to joke with nurses until he was anesthetized.
Six days later, Adam was back in the United States at Walter Reed Medical Center recovering from his injuries. Adam’s father, himself career Army, slept in a chair next to his son’s bed for the weeks that it took Adam to fight his way out of intensive care.
Today, ever thankful for his second chance, Adam works tirelessly to spread the TCCC gospel through his role as a TCCC instructor with Techline Trauma. As Adam puts it, “Every gunfighter needs to be trained to be a medic and every medic needs to be trained to be a gunfighter.”
Some discussion points to get you thinking:
How do you train for MASCALs and who do you include? Including leadership is important because MASCALs are logistics issues on top of medical issues.
Do you take your aid bag off on the “X” or check where you are placing it?
How can you check your route for secondaries, then check your casualty for secondaries near them?
Adam had to apply a TQ wounded. What drills do you teach/train that can prepare a casualty to apply a TQ to themselves or buddy with an injury? (Taping one hand closed so they cant use fingers, having them relax their injured arm so they cant move it, etc.)
What pain management would you have done for Adam?
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