US Senator John McCain, on April 8, 2018, criticized President Donald Trump for recently saying he is in favor of pulling US troops out of Syria.
McCain said Trump’s comments, that he wants to “get out” of Syria and “bring our troops home,” emboldened Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to launch a suspected chemical attack against civilians on April 7, 2018.
“President Trump last week signaled to the world that the United States would prematurely withdraw from Syria,” McCain, who is also the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
“Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers have heard him, and emboldened by American inaction, Assad has reportedly launched another chemical attack against innocent men, women, and children, this time in Douma. Initial accounts show dozens of innocent civilians, including children, have been targeted by this vicious bombardment designed to burn, and choke the human body and leave victims writhing in unspeakable pain,” he said.
According to reports, at least 40 people suffocated to death and hundreds more were injured from a suspected chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Douma in eastern Ghouta on April 7, 2018. Some estimates put the death toll closer to 150.
Local pro-opposition group Ghouta Media Center said the attack was carried out by a helicopter, which dropped a barrel bomb containing sarin gas. The US State Department confirmed reports of the attack and “a potentially high number of casualties” on April 7, 2018.
Graphic images from the attack have been posted on social media.
President Trump was quick to call out Assad for the violence in a tweet on April 8, 2018: “President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price … to pay.” It was also the first time Trump has called out Putin by name on Twitter.
In his statement, McCain acknowledged Trump’s quick response on Twitter but said, “the question now is whether he will do anything about it.”
McCain said the president needs to “act decisively” in his response to Assad’s alleged involvement in the chemical attack, and to “demonstrate that Assad will pay a price for his war crimes.”
Some US lawmakers have called on the president to respond militarily to the use of chemical weapons, and have suggested a “targeted attack” on chemical weapons facilities.
We’ve all read stories online about its potency and we’ve seen the Hollywood renditions of scientists synthesizing it to great effect. In the stories and movies, people experience unbelievable spurts of strength during crazy times because of this epic excretion. We’re talking about adrenaline.
During exposure to extreme pressure, the human body can produce the valuable hormone, also called “epinephrine,” via the adrenal glands. which are located above the kidneys.
These bouts of hysterical strength all start when your body initiates robust activity. The glands release adrenaline into the bloodstream, causing muscles to surge with oxygen. This massive influx of oxygen sparks the human body with incredible energy and near super-human endurance.
This strength has been known to enable humans to lift several hundred pounds at a moment’s notice. After oxygen-enriched blood fills the flexing muscles, the blood must return to the lungs to become re-oxygenated — which causes us to breathe faster.
Although we have this stored energy just waiting to escape, our bodies protect us from using it until an extreme event presents itself. This way, we avoid tearing muscle fibers and sustaining other physical injuries caused by intense physicality.
Now, during these massive rushes of adrenaline, the release of endorphins desensitizes our pain receptors. This makes sense of all those stories we’ve heard about soldiers who have been shot and don’t recognize the initial threat.
The University of Tokyo studied the effects of how strong one person could become as the adrenaline secretions pump through their veins. As a grip strength test began, university scientists fired a pistol in the sky. After the sound echoed, the strength of people being tested increased by roughly 10 percent — that’s a lot of strength gained in a short time.
It’s not comic-book-superhuman strong, but it’s pretty amazing.
Check out Buzz Feed Blue‘s video below to get a complete scientific breakdown and in-depth look at how adrenaline makes us stronger.
Some of our nation’s greatest treasures aren’t places, they are people. Leo LaCasse survived three crash landings and evaded 4,000 enemy troops during World War II. He now lives at a VA Community Living Center in Salem, Virginia. Here is his story:
Born on July 4, 1920, Leo LaCasse was one of five children–all of whom were born on birthdays of former presidents. At the age of 15, he joined the New Hampshire National Guard, and later the Army Air Corps, where he was assigned to a recruiting command. The private was soon promoted to corporal, then sergeant, as he traveled New England recruiting pilots from colleges and universities.
One day, Leo learned that he was accepted to flight school. It was a reward from his commanding officer who had submitted the application on his behalf. Despite never having gone to college, the Army sent Leo to college under an accelerated learning program, and when he graduated, he became a B-17 bomber captain.
Soon, flying planes “felt like home” to Leo.
“Some of them [planes] were cramped, but it didn’t make any difference to me because I was the pilot. When you’re packed in an aircraft and don’t have the room to move your body in the cockpit, any airplane you fly after that is good.”
In June 1943, Leo was assigned to the 8th Air Force, Bomb Group 548th in Suffolk, England, where he served under General Curtis Lemay.
Leo LaCasse flew 35 missions over Germany and other occupied countries, and survived three crash landings. During World War II, Leo evaded 4,000 enemy troops over 4 months.
One of Leo’s crashes landed in France, which was then occupied by Germany. He instructed his crew to head for the front lines, to surrender and tell whoever interrogated them that he was headed for Berlin. Instead, Leo left for Luxembourg to meet up with the French Resistance, where he crossed the Pyrenees Mountains, and made his way to Portugal.
In all, he spent four months avoiding Nazi capture. When the war was over, he was sent to Berlin for debriefing. That’s where he met and befriended a German general who recognized Leo’s name and revealed there had been 4,000 German troops looking for him following the crash landing in France.
Captain Leo LaCasse in front of his B-17 Bomber.
Leo retired from the military as a Brigadier General. For his service he has received numerous medals including the Silver Star Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, European and Middle East Campaign Medal, Army Air Force Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the American Defense Medal.
On June 5, 2016, Leo received the Legion of Honor Medal, France’s highest honor.
Leo now resides at Salem VA Medical Center’s Community Living Center located in Salem, Virginia.
On July 4, 2019, Leo will celebrate his 99th birthday.
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.
For much of the Second World War, German engineers and scientists were at the top of their game in developing nuclear fission. As early as 1939, the best minds in Germany were put to work on splitting the atom. They were attempting to use heavy water to control the fission process. Their main source of heavy water production was in occupied Norway, which was a devastating mistake.
They would never get the chance to develop an atomic bomb because Norwegian resistance fighters would blow up the heavy water facilities rather than help the Nazis win World War II.
British commandos tried to destroy the Vemork heavy water facilities in 1942 but were unsuccessful. Operation Grouse planned for Norwegian scouts to recon the area and provide intelligence for British commandos, who would land in gliders and assault the facility under Operation Freshman. But the gliders carrying the Freshman commandos crashed in the local area. One hit a mountain, killing everyone aboard. The other crashed, and some of the commandos survived, but were summarily executed by the Gestapo.
But the Grouse Norwegians were still operating in the area, living off the land, waiting for further instructions.
With the Norwegians still in position, the plan was given a second go-ahead. The Grouse scouts were now called Operation Swallow and the second raid on Vemork was dubbed Operation Gunnerside. The Gunnerside assault team would be an all-Norwegian squad, parachuting in to rendezvous with the Swallow team. Gunnerside launched on Feb. 16, 1943 – and immediately, things went wrong.
Though not as catastrophic as the first raid on Vemork, these problems caused major delays. The infiltrating Norwegians were dropped into Norway under the cover of snowfall, but they were accidentally dropped miles away from their target. It took the team five days to get to Vemork. They made it, though, and were able to connect with the Swallow group.
Unfortunately for the new raiders, the failure of the previous raid on Vemork prompted the Nazis to improve the facilities defenses. All the direct routes into the facility were now heavily guarded or mined. The raiders were forced to climb down into a gorge, cross a frozen river, and then climb a 500-foot cliff wall to access the building. There was a piece of luck for the Norwegians, however. A railroad line in the gorge led to the facility and was relatively unguarded.
After cutting into the facility’s fence, the group split into two teams: a four-man explosives unit and a five-man cover unit. The explosives team was accidentally split up after two men entered the facility through an access tunnel. The two others, presumably lost, broke in through a window. Each team set their explosives independently, cut their timing cord from two minutes to thirty seconds, and bolted.
The successful saboteurs fled on skis toward the town of Rjukan, where they split up. The four men in the explosive unit skied in full British uniforms the entire 200 miles to the border with Sweden. The cover team spread out to draw the Germans away. The Nazis launched a full search for their infiltrators, but none were captured or killed in their pursuit.
The commanding officer of all German forces stationed in Norway called the damage caused by Operation Gunnerside as “the most splendid coup.” The facility was up and running again soon after, but an American bombing raid would force the Germans to move their heavy water production to Germany. All the heavy water from the plant was moved to a ferry for safekeeping in Germany.
That ferry was sunk by Norwegian saboteurs on its way back to the Reich.
The Islamic State is throwing as many fighters as it can into the Iraqi city of Mosul in a desperate attempt to push back against coalition forces, according to the Pentagon.
ISIS reinforcements from Syria and Iraq are entering Mosul from areas west of the city, which are still under the terrorist group’s control. ISIS leaders inside the city have been forced to conscript administration officials and other non-traditional fighters in order to counter the coalition’s offensive.
“ISIL continues to augment its manpower from the outside,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Monday. “We see them taking administrative and support personnel, people who are not normally involved in arms, and they are arming them.”
Davis noted that despite the reinforcements, ISIS is having difficulty with its command and control capabilities thanks in part to coalition air strikes.
ISIS’s decision to arm every potential fighter it can is not surprising. The terrorist group is woefully outnumbered, with less than 5,000 fighters in the city. In turn, the Iraqi Security Forces have deployed 18,000 men, while the Kurdish Peshmerga have fielded around 10,000. Approximately 2,000 Iraqi federal police are also supplementing the coalition force.
While coalition forces clearly have the upper hand, Davis noted they are experiencing “heavy resistance” from ISIS as they move closer to the Mosul city limits. ISIS has engaged in increasingly desperate tactics as they lose control of the city, including waves of suicide bombers, car bombs and burning oil fields. In some cases, they have resorted to using suicide bombers to cover the retreat of their personnel.
The Pentagon expects foreign fighters to be particularly dangerous targets, as many of them burned their passports upon entering the so-called caliphate.
“Those are the people we expect to stay in Mosul and fight to the death, they don’t have a lot of other good options,” said Davis.
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With the fear that hordes of Russian tanks would storm through the Fulda Gap at the start of World War III, the United States Army looked for an advanced helicopter.
The first attempt, the AH-56 Cheyenne, didn’t quite make it. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Cheyenne was cancelled due to a combination of upgrades to the AH-1 Cobra, and “unresolved technical problems.”
The Army still wanted an advanced gunship. Enter the Apache, which beat out Bell’s AH-63.
The Apache was built to kill tanks and other vehicles. An Army fact sheet notes that this chopper is able to carry up to 16 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, four 19-round pods for the 70mm Hydra rocket, or a combination of Hellfires and Hydras, the Apache can take out a lot of vehicles in one sortie.
That doesn’t include its 30mm M230 cannon with 1200 rounds of ammo. The latest Apaches are equipped with the Longbow millimeter-wave radar.
According to Victor Suvarov’s “Inside the Soviet Army,” a standard Soviet tank battalion had 31 tanks, so one Apache has enough Hellfires to take out over half a battalion. Even the most modern tanks, like the T-90, cannot withstand the Hellfire.
Then, keep this in mind: Apaches are not solo hunters. Like wolves, they hunt in packs. A typical attack helicopter company has eight Apaches.
So, what would happen to a typical Russian tank battalion, equipped with T-80 main battle tanks (with a three-man crew, and a 125mm main gun) if they were to cross into Poland, or even the Baltics?
Things get ugly for the Russian tankers.
That Russian tank battalion is tasked with supporting three motorized rifle battalions, in either BMP infantry fighting vehicles or BTR armored personnel carriers, or it is part of a tank regiment with two other tank battalions and a battalion of BMPs. In this case, let’s assume it is part of the motorized rifle regiment.
This regiment is slated to hit a battalion from a heavy brigade combat team, which has two companies of Abrams tanks, and two of Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, plus a scout platoon of six Bradley Cavalry Fighting Vehicles.
A company of Apaches is sent to support the American battalion. Six, armed with eight Hellfires and 38 70mm Hydra rockets, are sent to deal with the three battalions of BMPs. The other two, each armed with 16 Hellfires, get to deal with the tank battalion.
According to Globalsecurity.org, the AN/APG-78 Longbow radars are capable of prioritizing targets. This allows the Apaches to unleash their Hellfires from near-maximum range.
The Hellfires have proven to be very accurate – Globalsecurity.org noted that at least 80% of as many as 4,000 Hellfires fired during Operation Desert Storm hit their targets.
Assuming 80% of the 32 Hellfires fired hit, that means 25 of the 31 T-80 main battle tanks in the tank battalion are now scrap metal.
Similar results from the 48 fired mean that what had been three battalions of 30 BMPs each are now down to two of 17 BMPs, and one of 18, a total of 52 BMPs and six T-80 tanks facing off against the American battalion.
That attack would not go well for Russia, to put it mildly.
Two violent explosions in galaxies billions of light-years away recently produced the brightest light in the universe. Scientists caught it in action for the first time.
The explosions were gamma-ray bursts: short eruptions of the most energetic form of light in the universe.
Telescopes caught the first burst in July 2018. The second burst, captured in January 2019, produced light containing about 100 billion times as much energy as the light that’s visible to our human eyes.
Gamma-ray bursts appear without warning and only last a few seconds, so astronomers had to move quickly. Just 50 seconds after satellites spotted the January explosion, telescopes on Earth swiveled to catch a flood of thousands of particles of light.
“These are by far the highest-energy photons ever discovered from a gamma-ray burst,” Elisa Bernardini, a gamma-ray scientist, said in a press release.
Over 300 scientists around the world studied the results; their work was published Nov. 20, 2019, in the journal Nature.
The Hubble Space Telescope imaged the fading afterglow of the gamma-ray burst GRB 190114C (center of the green circle) and its home galaxy.
50 seconds to capture the brightest, most mysterious light in the universe
Gamma-ray bursts happen almost every day, without warning, and they only last a few seconds. Yet the high-energy explosions remain something of a mystery to scientists. Astronomers think they come from colliding neutron stars or from supernovae — events in which stars run out of fuel, give in to their own gravity, and collapse into black holes.
“Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions known in the universe and typically release more energy in just a few seconds than our sun during its entire lifetime,” gamma-ray scientist David Berge said in the release. “They can shine through almost the entire visible universe.”
After the brief, intense eruptions of gamma rays, hours or days of afterglow follow.
Telescopes have observed low-energy rays that come from the initial explosion and the afterglow.
“Much of what we’ve learned about GRBs [gamma-ray bursts] over the past couple of decades has come from observing their afterglows at lower energies,” NASA scientist Elizabeth Hays said in a release.
But scientists had never caught the ultra-high-energy light until these two recent observations.
On Jan. 14, 2019, two NASA satellites detected an explosions in a galaxy over 4 billion light-years away. Within 22 seconds, these space telescopes — the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope — beamed the coordinates of the burst to astronomers all over Earth.
Within 27 seconds of receiving the coordinates, astronomers in the Canary Islands turned two Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescopes toward that exact point in the sky.
On January 14, 2019, the Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) observatory in the Canary Islands captured the highest-energy light ever recorded from a gamma-ray burst. This illustration of that event also shows NASA’s Fermi and Swift spacecraft (top left and right, respectively).
The photons flooded those telescopes for the next 20 minutes, leading to new revelations about some of the most elusive properties of gamma-ray bursts.
“It turns out we were missing approximately half of their energy budget until now,” Konstancja Satalecka, a scientist who coordinates MAGIC’s searches for gamma-ray bursts, said in the release. “Our measurements show that the energy released in very-high-energy gamma-rays is comparable to the amount radiated at all lower energies taken together. That is remarkable.”
The large central H.E.S.S. telescope array in Namibia detected the light from a gamma-ray burst on July 20, 2018.
(MPIK / Christian Föhr)
Ultra-high-energy light came in the afterglow, not the explosion itself
The photons detected from a gamma-ray burst six months earlier, in July 2018, weren’t as energetic or as numerous as those from the January explosion.
But the earlier detection was still notable because the flow of high-energy light came 10 hours after the initial explosion. The light lasted for another two hours — deep into the afterglow phase.
In their paper, the researchers suggested that electrons may have scattered the photons, increasing the photons’ energy. Another paper about the January observations suggested the same thing.
Scientists had long suspected that this scattering was one way gamma-ray bursts could produce so much ultra-high-energy light in the afterglow phase. The observations of these two bursts confirmed that for the first time.
Scientists expect to learn more as they turn telescopes toward more gamma-ray bursts like these in the future.
“Thanks to these new ground-based detections, we’re seeing the gamma rays from gamma-ray bursts in a whole new way,” Hays said.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
They don’t even put Charms in MREs anymore. Because if everyone is just going to chuck the candy out the Humvee window, that’s just a gross waste of high-fructose corn syrup.
Those who aren’t new to the service and have ever deployed with Marines probably saw the same scene at some point. Hungry Marines pour into their MREs and take out their favorite parts and toss the rest into the MRE box (a process known as ratf*cking). Let’s face it, some MRE parts are definitely better than others.
No matter what an individual’s tastes were, one item was always discarded: the Charms candy. The reason for that was a mixture of superstition and because the younger guys knew someone would slap the candy out of their hands or out of their mouths for the cardinal sin of even opening the wrapper.
The simplest answer is that Marines grow up in the Corps learning that Charms are just plain bad luck. Whether it was learned from saltier Marines or experienced firsthand, those things might as well be pure evil.
Eating Charms is like begging for the world’s largest thunderstorm to rain down on you and your platoon – even in the desert. Or they might set off a roadside bomb. Some think you’ll get mortared just for opening an MRE with Charms in it – unless you bury it.
Some troops have been known to donate them to the more persistent local children – at high velocity. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Grant Okubo)
The luck varied as much as the flavors did. As Sgt. Kenneth Wilson told Agence France-Presse just before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, a lemon-flavored Charm could cause a vehicle breakdown. The green ones were the ones that brought the rain. Raspberry meant certain death.
In the Star Wars universe, lightsaber combat is a selling point. It hearkens back to the cinematic classics of Akira Kurosawa by putting the duels of feudal samurai into a sci-fi setting. When we watch Jedi go toe-to-toe on-screen, it sets our imaginations ablaze. And when it comes to merchandise, there are lightsaber toys flying off the shelves, as every kid wants to get their hands on that ultimate blade.
While this weapon is all-powerful and completely practical in both fiction and our imaginations, in reality, there are a number of headaches that would come with using a high-powered energy blade in contemporary combat.
1. Lightsabers are useless against guns
Let’s get the obvious shortcoming out of the way: range. A lightsaber’s max effective range is about three feet out from the user’s hand. Blasters, on the other hand, reach much further.
We can cut the lightsaber a bit of slack since the blasters in Star Wars aren’t shooting at the speed of light, or even at a fraction of the muzzle velocity of an M4. Wired recently calculated the speed of blaster rounds at 34.9m/s (or 78mph) — similar to a Major League Baseball pitch. So, it’s feasible that our heroes can deflect the lasers at a constant rate like they do in the films, but you’d definitely tire yourself out, like a baseball batter constantly swinging at fastballs.
But we’re not fighting anyone who uses blasters, so… they’re basically only useful against other lightsabers.
2. You can’t really practice with lightsabers
Imagine how troops practice with their weapons. There’s dry training (training that doesn’t involve actually firing the rifle) and time at the range where you fire at a designated target. This becomes a little more challenging when you’re using a weapon that only has two settings: “off” and “able to slice through feet of hardened steel.”
Any practice with a lightsaber would need to be done with a fake. By practicing with a real one, you’d run the risk of chopping off your buddy’s arm.
Your only options are this ball thing or some rocks…
3. It’s worthless if you don’t have the force
Without any Jedi training, anyone who picks up a lightsaber would probably chop off their hand. Or they’ll drop it and watch it burn a hole through to the core of the planet.
And even Jedi Masters aren’t that great at fighting…
4. There’s no safety on a lightsaber
Let’s look at the basic build of a lightsaber: There’s handle that you hold onto, the extremely deadly blade, and the button that turns it on. Nowhere on the device is there any kind of safety mechanism.
If you bump into a chair and accidentally hit the button while it’s holstered, your leg gets cut off. If you’re fighting a Jedi, they could (spoiler alert) turn it on with the force and it’ll impale you. Imagine how many lightsaber battles would’ve been ended sooner if, while duelists lock sabers and stare each other down, someone just force pushes their adversary’s lightsaber.
The Afghan Defense Ministry says 43 soldiers have been killed and nine wounded in a Taliban attack on an army camp in the southern province of Kandahar.
Ministry spokesman Dawlat Wazeri told RFE/RL that six soldiers were unaccounted for after the attack on the Afghan National Army base in the Maiwand district early on October 19.
Only two of the soldiers stationed at the base escaped the attack unhurt.
Waxeri said 10 militants were killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault, the third major attack on Afghan security forces this week.
The Western-backed government in Kabul is struggling to beat back insurgents in the wake of the exit of most NATO forces in 2014.
A local security official told RFE/RL that a suicide bomber detonated a car filled with explosives near the base, before a number of gunmen launched an assault against the facility.
The official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said the militants failed to overrun the base as reinforcement arrived at the scene.
Some reports said there were two suicide bombings.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, six police officers were killed in an ambush in the northern Balkh Province late on October 18, according to Shir Jan Durani, a spokesman for the provincial police chief.
In the western province of Farah, the authorities said that militants attacked a government compound in the Shibkho district, killing at least three police officers.
The Taliban also claimed responsibility for the two attacks, which came after the extremist group launched two separate suicide and gun assaults on government forces on October 17 that left at least 80 people dead and about 300 others wounded, including soldiers, police officers, and civilians.
The attacks targeted a police compound in the southeastern city of Gardez, capital of Paktia Province bordering Pakistan, and a security compound in the neighboring province of Ghazni.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently unveiled a strategy to try to defeat the militants, and officials said more than 3,000 additional U.S. troops were being sent to Afghanistan to reinforce the 11,000 already stationed there.
Mandy R. asks: In movies they always act like it’s important for a person to stay conscious when they’ve been seriously injured. Does that really help someone live?
We’ve all seen movie scenes where someone is seriously injured and slowly drifting in and out of consciousness. Someone else there will inevitably yell something like, “Stay with me DAMMIT!!!” It’s even sometimes explicitly stated that it’s important for the person to stay awake to keep the Grim Reaper away. Towards this end, the person with them may even be shown to slap the person in the face and/or shake them in an attempt to keep them conscious. This all brings us to the question of the hour — will staying conscious provide any benefit to someone who is seriously injured as depicted almost universally by Hollywood?
Well, no, not really.
In fact, unconsciousness may even mildly help in some cases. For example, one study, Tightly coupled brain activity and cerebral ATP metabolic rate, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, showed when rats were intentionally knocked out, they produced about 50% fewer ATP molecules. (ATP being the energy that cells use to perform all their vital functions.) The net result of all of this was about a 66% reduction in energy requirements by the brain — potentially a very good thing if your body is already low on the necessary resources to keep on keeping on.
That said, there is one caveat here — being awake while you’re potentially succumbing to your demise can be very helpful for a medical provider in some cases. Namely, if it’s not obvious what’s wrong with you, you being able to communicate the cause of your situation, the specifics of the pain you’re in, or any pertinent history of the problem will help them more easily figuring out the best way to treat you as rapidly as possible, which may make all the difference.
However, other than those benefits, when it comes to staying alive, being conscious isn’t a requirement in any way. Further, your level of consciousness and the change in it actually guides how an emergency provider will treat you, via the Glasgow Coma Scale.
First published by neurosurgery professors Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett in 1974 from the University of Glasgow, the scale is used to describe how impaired someone’s consciousness actually is. It assesses a patient according to three general criteria: four parts for eye-opening, five parts for verbal response, and six parts for motor response.
As an example, we have the commonly known phrase in emergency medicine “A GCS less than 8, intubate”. This basically just means that if your score is less than 8, your chance of maintaining your own airway for breathing is so low that it is recommended, and generally an extremely good idea, to stick a tube into the patient’s trachea and take over breathing for them.
Should someone have a score of 14 (confused, but otherwise normal), then all of the sudden have a score of 9 (the level at which Hollywood would have you slapping them incessantly), this would indicate a significant thing just happened and the provider will need to re-evaluate the treatment strategy and confirm or disprove what they think is going on.
Now, given that understanding the vast number of things that can cause someone to become unconscious will only illustrate one of them by putting you all into an incredibly deep sleep, let’s instead just talk about the high level generalities of the two main causes of unconsciousness pertinent to the topic at hand. When someone is potentially dying, it’s because of one of two things — traumatic injury or medical issue.
(Photo by Tomás Del Coro)
Looking at the source of most Hollywood movie plot-line unconsciousness, trauma, the two main things that will make you become unresponsive are exsanguination (bleeding out) and traumatic brain injury.
In the former case, if you were able to stay awake when bleeding to death, you simply would naturally — slapping or shaking not needed, nor beneficial. Why? Anytime you’re seriously injured you’re naturally going to have your sympathetic nervous system releasing epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, and dopamine. These hormones will do things like increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels and pupils. This results in the greatest amount of blood flow to your brain possible given the circumstances.
Along with this, whether conscious or not, your baroreceptors also continue doing their thing. Residing in an area of your carotid sinus (the beginning of your internal carotid artery) and in the arch of your aortic artery, these handy little mechanoreceptors sense a change in blood pressure and cause the body to react accordingly. Too high a pressure and it will inhibit your fight or flight nervous system (sympathetic). This allows acetylcholine, the main neurotransmitter for your rest and digest nervous system (parasympathetic) to slow down your body’s heart rate and dilate its blood vessels, thereby decreasing your blood pressure.
On the flip side, if they sense too little pressure, like when your precious blood volume is being spilled onto the ground, it will stimulate your sympathetic nervous system to increase its heart rate and constrict blood vessels, raising your blood pressure.
Thus, slapping that person in the face and yelling at them to “Stay with from the light!!!”, will likely only see the medical professionals who arrive slap you in the face for potentially further injuring someone who is already barely clinging to life. That’s not to mention that while you were doing that, you were not doing what you should have been doing — applying direct pressure on the area of bleeding, which is easier and requires far less pressure than you might think to stop the bleeding, even for arterial bleeds.
And it’s not like direct pressure is rocket surgery. It involves simply taking your hand (hopefully gloved, or with some sort of barrier device to prevent the spread of disease) and placing it directly over the wound. Apply enough force to stop the bleeding. Even in the worst types of bleeding, you won’t need more than 3-4 pounds per square inch or about 27 kPa.
You should also have tried to immobilize any body part that looks out of place, so as not to have its movement cause any more damage. Thus, shaking or slapping the individual in a vain attempt to keep them conscious for… reasons we guess… is a bit counterproductive.
Moving on, should the cause of the unconsciousness be a traumatic brain injury (TBI), like a concussion or a bleed in the brain, slapping the person will at best do nothing and may well serve to make the injury worse. Further, shaking or slapping someone with a TBI also comes with the potential risk of damaging their spinal cord.
Moving on to medical reasons for an altered level of consciousness, the causes are vast and can be difficult to nail down. There isn’t always an obvious reason like in trauma where you might see the bullet holes or the bones sticking out of the skin. In fact, there are so many that emergency medical providers use handy little acronyms like AEIOU-TIPS to make sure they’re thinking about all the potential causes when they’re treating you.
A= things like alcohol and acidosis.
E=things like epilepsy, electrolyte abnormalities and encephalopathies.
I= infection (infection being the #1 cause of altered mental status in the elderly).
O=things like overdose or oxygen deficiency.
U= things like underdosing of medications or uremia.
T=trauma or tumors.
I= insulin problems like in the case of diabetes.
P= things like poisons or psychosis
S= things like stroke or shock.
In any of these cases and so many more, the only thing forcing the person to stay awake will do is allow them to give a better history on what is potentially causing their problem. This can be incredibly helpful at speeding up optimal treatment. But it isn’t specifically going to help reverse the actual issue as is usually depicted in cinema, nor is your shaking or slapping going to aid at keeping them conscious anyway. Just like in trauma, in all of these cases, the body already has compensatory mechanisms in place that will keep the person conscious if it can.
In the end, knowing a person’s body is already doing everything it can to stay away from the light, maybe instead of slapping them, just remember — direct pressure, immobilization, call for emergency medical aid, and, when all else fails, just lean down, smile, and say, “Look at me. We’re gonna be okay. You can rest now…” And maybe throw in a “I love you 3,000” just for good measure. You never know, it might just be your last chance to say it.
This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.
The squadron recently completed two successful sorties where a B-52 released eight PDU-5/B leaflet bombs over the Point Mugu Sea Test Range and eight more over the Precision Impact Range Area on Edwards Air Force Base.
“We are primarily looking to see safe separation from the external Heavy Stores Adapter Beam,” said Kevin Thorn, a 419th FLTS B-52 Stratofortress air vehicle manager. “We are ensuring that the bombs do not contact the aircraft, and/or each other, creating an unsafe condition. Additionally we are tracking the reliability of the bomb functioning.”
The PDU-5/B is a new-use or variant of an older Cluster Bomb Unit. The original designation for the weapon was the MK-20 Rockeye II, SUU-76B/B, and/or CBU-99/100. The designator changes depending on the type of filler used in the bomb, said Thorn. Having leaflets as a filler designates the bomb as a PDU-5/B.
According to the Air Force, PDU-5/B canisters can deliver about 60,000 leaflets and were deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom before any Air Force munitions began hitting targets in Baghdad.
The dispenser bomb can be dropped from helicopters and fighter jets, and now the 419th FTS is trying to see if the B-52 fleet can be used as well.
“The PDU-5/B is just another tool that the B-52 uses in its vast and reliable tool box,” said Earl Johnson, the B-52 PDU-5/B project manager. “Without the capability to carry PDU-5s on the B-52 aircraft, the impending shortfall on leaflet dispersal capability will jeopardize Air Force Central Command information operations.”
Johnson said testing the PDU-5/B on the B-52 is complete for now. The program is forecasted to return at a future date to test PDU-5/B releases from the B-52’s internal weapons bay.