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Saab Global

How Do You Save Lives During Combat?

In the chaos of combat, saving lives is paramount. Immediate care can mean the difference between life and death for soldiers injured on the battlefield. The primary goal is to stabilize the injured and prepare them for safe transport back to care facilities with increasing resources the further they are from the frontline.

When under effective fire, the most important lifesaver is to suppress enemy fire and take cover. What matters most here is self-aid and “buddy care” by the soldiers themselves, who are equipped with basic first aid training and a personal medical kit. The focus is on the fundamentals: stop massive bleeding, clear the airways and keep the wounded warm.

The aim for lifesaving care during combat is often referred to as 10, 1, 2, meaning the injured should receive buddy care from their comrade-in-arms in ten minutes, see a clinician in one hour and reach surgery in two hours.


To support this, lightweight, modular, and highly mobile solutions like Saab’s Deployable Health Care Solutions have become increasingly vital for allowing clinicians to provide emergency medical care close to the point of injury. The design focuses on delivering appropriate damage control care as quickly as possible. These medical treatment facilities are compatible with all platforms, modular and scalable and can be soft or hard shelters which are transportable by road, rail, or air.

How Soldiers Receive Treatment During Combat

In the heat of battle, the medical treatment of soldiers follows a structured approach defined by NATO’s medical support roles: Role 1, Role 2, and Role 3. Saab’s modular and mobile Deployable Health Care Solutions (DHC) are fully interoperable with Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) as well as all NATO Roles.

Self and buddy aid are the first lines of defense, involving immediate medical attention close to the point of injury. ROLE1 is an assembly point close to the battle and includes basic emergency treatment provided by combat medics, nurses and maybe a doctor. Saab’s Role 1 concept is extremely lightweight, can be carried by two people and is operational within 10 minutes. The main goal here is to perform life-saving measures quickly to control bleeding and manage airway issues.

Role 2 facilities provide a higher level of care. Role 2F (Forward) facilities are light, mobile units close to the front lines, offering advanced trauma care, including resuscitation and damage control surgery. Role 2B (Basic) facilities, while still relatively mobile, provide additional surgical and medical capabilities, such as enhanced diagnostic services and blood transfusions. Role 2E (Enhanced) facilities offer extensive surgical facilities, advanced imaging technologies, and specialized medical services like intensive care units.

Surgery in Field Hospital

Role 3 facilities are equivalent to modern hospitals and are located further from the front lines. Where Role 2 facilities bridge the gap between initial stabilization and more comprehensive medical care, Role 3 facilities offer full-spectrum surgical services, advanced diagnostics and intensive care.

How Does Military First Aid Work?

Military first aid is a fundamental skill taught to all soldiers, enabling them to provide immediate care to themselves or their comrades in the event of injury. Soldiers carry individual first aid kits (IFAKs) containing essential supplies such as tourniquets, hemostatic gauze, chest seals and burn dressings.

For Saab, military first aid is part of our approach to Deployable Health Care, where all equipment is designed to be light, mobile, and modular. From the first aid kits that soldiers carry in their leg pockets to field hospitals, every piece of material or equipment is interchangeable and integrated.

Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces
Armed Forces Exercise AURORA 23 Photo: Bezav Mahmod -Swedish Armed Forces

Training is the foundation of effective military first aid. This training includes recognizing and responding to various types of injuries. Soldiers learn to apply tourniquets to limbs to control severe bleeding, pack wounds with hemostatic dressings and apply chest seals. Proper positioning and airway management techniques are also taught to ensure that injured personnel can breathe effectively.

Combat lifesaver courses provide additional training to selected soldiers, equipping them with advanced skills such as starting intravenous lines and administering fluids. These individuals serve as a bridge between basic first aid and the advanced care provided by combat medics.

What is a Field Hospital?

A field hospital is a mobile medical unit designed to provide comprehensive medical care close enough to the front lines to offer relief to a conflict area but far enough away to not be affected by direct or indirect fire.

These facilities are essential for stabilizing and treating injured soldiers before they are evacuated to more permanent medical centers. Field hospitals are equipped to handle a wide range of medical conditions, from traumatic injuries to infectious diseases, and contain everything we normally associate with a civilian hospital: triage areas, emergency rooms, surgery, intensive care units, labs, X-ray, extensive sterilization capabilities and recovery wards.


Field hospitals are highly modular and can be rapidly deployed and set up in various environments. They also play a crucial role in managing public health issues, such as outbreaks of infectious diseases, among military and local populations.

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.


What Kind of Medical Equipment is Used on the Field?

The effectiveness of field hospitals and frontline medical care heavily depends on advanced medical equipment and solutions. The journey of medical care for a soldier begins at the frontline, where immediate attention is critical.

Close to the battlefield, soldiers and combat medics use Individual First Aid Kits (IFAKs) containing tourniquets, hemostatic dressings, and pressure bandages to control severe bleeding and manage airway issues. For resuscitation close to the point of injury, Saab’s Role 1 concept includes basic infrastructure for life-saving capacity.

Solider practicing tourniquet application

Once stabilized, the soldier is moved to more advanced care units, like Saab’s Role 2 “carried surgery capacity” concept with surgical resuscitation capability and a ward unit. These modules are equipped with essential pre-hospital trauma care equipment such as portable surgical kits, which include instruments for emergency surgeries like wound cleaning and suturing. Additionally, the module provides the possibility for basic anesthesia with ventilation, monitoring, controlled IV fluids, pain management, and documentation. In the event of delayed transportation, prolonged casualty care is provided in the ward unit.

At field hospitals, the level of care becomes more sophisticated. These units are equipped with surgical instruments and life-support systems necessary for conducting complex medical procedures. Advanced airway management tools and intravenous therapy equipment are critical for stabilizing patients who require surgery or other intensive interventions.


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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