Breakthough could revoutionize first aid kits

October 12, 2009 6:54:33 PM PDT
A first aid compound originally designed for use on the battlefields of Iraq is now being distributed for civilian use. It looks like regular gauze, but it's infused with a material that quickly stops bleeding. It could become an indispensible element of a home or car first aid kit.

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Advances in field medicine are helping American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan survive wounds that would have been deadly in earlier wars.

But one of the latest can be applied, not only by doctors, but wounded soldiers themselves.

"As you can see this is a role of gauze that's very effective in stemming bleeding," said Z-Medica Corp. Chief Medical Officer Giacomo Bassadonna.

The gauze contains a substance known commercially as quick clot. it was added to the field kits carried by American combat forces after tests showed it could stop arterial bleeding in under two minutes. But the active ingredient isn't a drug -- its clay.

"People have been using clay to stop bleeding for a long time, different kinds of clay, and we found a certain kind of clay called kaolin that can help stop bleeding," said Z-Medica Corp. CEO Brian Herrman.

While the kaolin had been available as a powder for several years, the company says the ability to implant the mineral in the gauze, makes the delivery far more reliable.

Kaolin is known to attract water molecules in the blood, thickening the flow and allowing clotting factors to gather together more efficiently.

The company is now marketing variations of the original combat gauze to hospitals and first responders.They are ultimately hoping for widespread use by the general public.

"There are 50,000 people who die in car accidents, simply because they're bleeding to death. So we have a long term vision, if you are in an accident or you see and accident, you can be the first responder," said Herrman.

The product is non-allergenic. It's been used in hospital settings and by first responders for eight months now. The company hopes to make it more widely available in the next couple of years.

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