HomeNewsArticle Display

Embedded Air Force researchers develop innovative battlefield medical technology

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bean, an Air Force pararescue jumper, demonstrates how BATDOK can be worn on the wrist, providing awareness of the health status of multiple patients. Developing BATDOK required Air Force medical researchers to embed with pararescue jumpers on live missions to ensure the tool met the rigorous standards required by combat Airmen.

Chief Master Sgt. Robert Bean, an Air Force pararescue jumper, demonstrates how the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit can be worn on the wrist, providing awareness of the health status of multiple patients. Developing BATDOK required Air Force medical researchers to embed with pararescue jumpers on live missions to ensure the tool met the rigorous standards required by combat Airmen. (Courtesy photo)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AFNS)-- Imagine the chaos and challenge of delivering life-saving care in a battlefield environment. That’s what faced a group of Air Force researchers as they developed a new electronic patient monitoring tool for use on the battlefield. Overcoming this challenge required an integrated development process, where researchers left the lab and embedded on missions with medical Airmen.

The technology they developed, the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit, or BATDOK, is software that can run on a smartphone or other mobile device, and draws patient information from a wide variety of commercially available, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved sensors. It lets medics monitor multiple patients in the field, seeing vital information and managing multiple patients in a chaotic environment.

The integrated development process was critical to making BATDOK a tool that seamlessly integrates mobile capabilities for Airmen in the field, said Dr. Gregory Burnett, from the 711th Human Performance Wing’s Airman Systems Directorate in the Warfighter Interface Division. Dr. Burnett managed the development of BATDOK for the Air Force.

“BATDOK is a multi-patient, point of injury, casualty tool that assists our human operators and improves care,” said Burnett. “It can be a real-time health status monitoring for multiple patients, a documentation tool, a user-definable medical library, a portal to integrate patient data into their electronic health records, and finally it is interoperable with battlefield digital situation awareness maps, which helps identify the exact location of casualties.”

Dr. Burnett’s background in computer engineering, with an emphasis in embedded electronics and mobile interfaces helped the Air Force Research Laboratory development team design the look and feel of BATDOK. However, more intimate knowledge was needed for the tool to be most useful for operators in the field.

“We physically left the lab, got into the field with the operators, and observed firsthand the challenges and deficiencies they face,” said Burnett. “And when I say into the field, I mean we literally rode in the helicopters into hot landing zones, and observed medical Airmen stabilize and package up patients for transport and load them back on the helicopter.

“We see, at the point of injury, the challenges and limitations that our medical Airmen face. With those lessons learned, and gaps identified through direct experience, we come back to the lab and devise innovative solutions to address the short falls we observed firsthand in the field.”

The integration didn’t stop once the BATDOK development team got back to their lab. They continued to interact with operators from their deployment, and got feedback throughout the process.

“From day one, every interface, every button, every menu, was user-validated by pararescue Airmen and combat rescue officers that were involved in the design, integration and testing process,” said Burnett. “Nothing is added without the explicit request and review by the operator.”

This brings firsthand knowledge to the development process. The development team and operators sit down and walk through the mission step-by-step. They identify areas where current technology can be improved, or where a gap exists, and then share ideas to innovate new solutions and capabilities.

This process helps the team identify requirements and avoid unforeseen downsides to new technology. Medical Airmen deploy with heavy loads, and can be cautious about adding new gear. Working so closely with the operator helped the team integrate BATDOK into the tactical ensemble.

“BATDOK was designed to not add any additional burden to battlefield Airmen’s tactical ensemble,” said Burnett. “From the beginning, we are designing to enhance capabilities, while aiding their survivability and lethality. Being part of the Air Force gives us flexibility and firsthand, unfiltered access to operators and perspective on the challenges that Airmen face. This is true for both humanitarian and combat missions. Being able to observe in person is invaluable and helps us contribute to the overall readiness mission.”

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @thejointstaff: #DYK today marks the 70th anniversary of the Chairmanship? Watch recently discovered footage from the historic swearing…
This week really flew by fast. Be sure to #Follow, #Like & #RT our @AFThunderbirds for more info on the premiere a… https://t.co/5BM8N7sZTR
RT @AFSpace: Chief Towberman, AFSPC Command Chief, knows the importance of recharging, and implements it in his work-life balance. @AF_SMC
RT @AETCommand: What happened in #LasVegas...will help foster a culture of collaboration & innovation in the #USAF: the July 23 @AFWERX Fus…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: It was absolutely impressive getting a first-hand look at the mission and innovative efforts of the 15th Wing’s Sky Wa…
.@EielsonAirForce Red Flag-Alaska is a series of @PACAF commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. & part… https://t.co/0bKkyvsVf9
RT @US_Stratcom: #24/7 #AlwaysReady 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron #Airmen work together to #GetErDone. #CombatReadyForc
RT @DeptofDefense: Cockpit view. Press ▶️ to ride along with the crew of an F-15 Strike Eagle from RAF Lakenheath, England 🇬🇧. The @48Figh
Exercise Agile Lightning concludes after showcasing agile operations essential to the defense of U.S. assets and p… https://t.co/vVR32kvtaP
What innovative way would you like to ease your job and the jobs of other Airmen? #InnovativeAF #USAFhttps://t.co/fKqcPisybt
RT @HAFB: Workers at #HillAFB recently installed the last of 173 new wings on A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, finalizing a project that began…
RT @AFWERX: HAPPENING NOW: We're hosting the first-ever @usairforce #SparkCollider. Tune in live: https://t.co/gTKMNPM9fK https://t.co/xIlJ…
RT @EdwardsAFB: Fix these broken wings – part fabrication saves Air Force time, money - https://t.co/UCvLQ0fAqy #ForTheWarfighter #TheCente
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: I don't have a solution. There is no checklist. I just know finding the answers starts with listening to our Airmen. L…
#USAF's visit to the #MotorCity is almost here. Listen in as this hometown #Airman shares her experience growing up… https://t.co/h9aeMYwOhR
RT @seattletimes: Dorothy Olsen, of University Place, was one of the members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), the long-unrecog…
RT @374AirliftWing: The presence of U.S. military intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance personnel and assets further contributes t…