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Saab Global

How Soldiers Receive Treatment During Combat

5 min read

The changing landscape of global threats has put increased focus on mobile and flexible health care in combat. You want to get in, save lives and get away as quickly as possible.

Grenades are raining down on soldiers dug into trenches on the front line. Medics trying to reach casualties are being shot at. This could be a scene from World War One but it has increasingly become the standard of modern conflicts, with the addition of drones, unmanned aerial vehicles and other advanced weapons.

So how do we address these new threats? How do we best preserve and restore the health and fighting strength of the force? Here’s a summary of how soldiers receive medical treatment during combat, incorporating Saab’s Deployable Healthcare Solutions (DHC), a modular medical systems concept that covers everything from tactical frontline solutions to field hospitals and integrated logistics support.


Role 1: Immediate Care Close to the Frontline

The sound of gunfire and explosions fills the air as medics rush to the aid of fallen soldiers. Role 1 facilities, often battalion aid stations or forward operating bases, are the first line of defense in providing medical care close to the frontline. These facilities focus on immediate care and stabilization, aiming to treat life-threatening injuries as quickly as possible.

In this chaotic environment, combat medics, equipped with Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) and training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), perform crucial first aid on injured soldiers. They apply tourniquets to control severe bleeding, use hemostatic dressings, and manage airway issues. 

Solider practicing tourniquet application
Solider practicing tourniquet application

Saab’s Pre-Hospital Trauma concept plays a critical role here, offering a mobile, rapidly deployable tent-based solution that brings essential medical services right to the frontlines. Saab’s Role 1 lightweight concept can be carried by two people and be operational within just ten minutes. These units provide a secure environment for medics to perform life-saving procedures amidst the chaos, either if they are using the tent or putting up the equipment under the relative protection of a cellar or a shipping container.


Role 2: Enhanced Field Care

Once stabilized, the wounded are transported to Role 2 facilities, which provide a higher level of care, blood and pain management. These facilities are divided into Role 2F, Role 2B, and Role 2E, each offering progressively advanced capabilities and designed to be as close to the frontlines as possible while remaining safe from direct enemy fire.

Role 2F (Forward)

The journey to a Role 2F facility is often fraught with danger but it is critical for the survival of the wounded. These mobile units, positioned just behind the frontlines, offer advanced trauma care including resuscitation and damage control surgery. Medics here are equipped with more sophisticated tools and equipment, including portable imaging devices and blood transfusion capabilities. Saab’s Deployable Health Care Solutions enhance these facilities with modular designs that can be quickly set up and adapted to the needs of the situation. A typical Role 2 concept includes a three-part ultra-light infrastructure with three tents, four beds, a generator, a heater and a lighting kit.


Role 2B (Basic)

As the soldier’s condition stabilizes, they might be moved to a Role 2B facility that is able to provide greater capabilities. These semi-static units provide additional surgical and medical capabilities, such as more extensive diagnostic services and advanced wound care.

The facilities are equipped to handle a broader range of medical issues, offering more comprehensive care than Role 2F. Saab’s DHC solutions are integral here, providing the necessary infrastructure to support a wide range of medical procedures in a field environment.

Role 2E (Enhanced)

For the most critically injured, Role 2E facilities offer the highest level of care available close to the combat zone. The capabilities at these facilities can almost be compared to a civil hospital and are equipped with extensive surgical units, advanced imaging technologies such as CT (medical imaging) scanning, and intensive care units. Saab’s solutions for Role 2E include fully integrated hospital systems that can be rapidly deployed and equipped with the latest medical technology, ensuring that even the most severe injuries receive the best possible care. According to specific requirements, Saab’s customised design of deployable medical facilities for a Role 2E facility could incorporate containerized and soft shelter systems; power; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; water; waste; lighting; medical gases; medical equipment; patient and clinician workflow; cold chain management; sterilization and transportation packaging.

Role 3: Definitive Care

As the ultimate goal is to save life and limb, transport of the most seriously injured soldiers to Role 3 facilities is critical. However, the biggest problems today with lack of air and ground supremacy is transportation of wounded. This is why it is vital to have prolonged casualty care as part of every medical solution.

As armored vehicles or helicopters transport the wounded from Role 2 to Role 3, continuous monitoring and advanced treatment ensure the stability of the casualties.  Often set up like minor tented villages, in shipping containers or available buildings, these field hospitals are located in secure areas, major bases or naval ships. Role 3 facilities offer comprehensive medical care, including full-spectrum surgical services, advanced diagnostics, and specialized medical personnel.  


At Role 3, medical personnel including surgeons, anesthesiologists and specialists work tirelessly to save lives. These hospitals are equipped with intensive care units, full surgical suites, and specialized equipment to handle complex injuries and medical conditions. The comprehensive care provided at Role 3 facilities often marks the turning point in a soldier’s recovery, stabilizing them sufficiently for evacuation out of the combat zone if necessary.

Saab’s field hospitals are advanced medical treatment facilities designed according to NATO standards, providing health and medical support in challenging operational conditions. The system comprises hard and soft shelters, essential services and customized medical kits capable of seamless deployment in various sizes and layouts, depending on the situation. 


Deployable Healthcare Solutions

Saab’s Deployable Healthcare Solutions (DHC) are cost effective, flexible and highly deployable. Adapted to fit the requirements of any mission, our solutions are suitable for a range of applications. The units are modular and fully interoperable with Nordic and NATO forces.

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