John Steinbaugh is a 25-year Army veteran with 20 years of experience as a medic for the Special Forces. If anyone knows what medical personnel need when it comes to treating combat wounds, it's him.
Since the attacks on 9/11 and the start of the War on Terror, Steinbaugh has "seen lots of trauma during that time," he told TheBlaze. And while on his 10-plus rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan, he and other medics, during their down time, would discuss how to improve medical products for treating war wounds.
Such wounds can be very different than those seen in the typical U.S. hospital, but many of the products used on the battlefield are designed for traditional hospital/EMT use, occasionally leaving military medics wanting some different functionality. That's where the Oregon-based company RevMedX comes in.
The company, which fascinated Blaze readers last week with its device that can close a gunshot wound in 15 seconds, just released two new combat medical supplies. TheBlaze spoke with Steinbaugh, representing RevMedX as its director of business development, about the need for specialized medical tools in warzones and how these tools likely will translate to the civilian medical market over time.
The XStat device can stop a gunshot wound from continuing to bleed in 15 seconds. (Photo credit: RevMedX/Brad Gilpin)
"[Medics] want to see it smaller, lighter, [they want] little tweaks to products that engineers have never found, but to the guys that use them on the battlefield it’s perfectly obvious to them," Steinbaugh said.
One of RevMedX's newest products is the Sharkbite Modular Dressing. This, Steinbaugh explained to TheBlaze just before the patent-pending product went live, is a "bandage designed for roadside bombs and large blast injuries where there’s a lot of tissue missing."
"Sharkbite is use to treat a very gruesome type of roadside injuries," Steinbaugh said.
The dressing is actually a kit that combines RevMedX's AirWrap bandage, its patented XGauze and a absorptive pad. It's already available for military and civilian responders.
XGauze is designed to absorb as much blood or other liquid as possible. Here it's seen in expanded and compact states. (Photo credit: RevMedX)
The company of just 12 employees, which has its roots going back to the start of the war in the early 2000s, first created XGauze, which is a material that expands to capture more fluid than traditional gauze. This gauze, Steinbaugh said, isn't just useful on the battlefield but in the civilian world as well.
"It's designed for the first responder, a civilian [or] someone to pull out of mass casualty kit, like in the Boston Bombing," he said. "Pull it out, read instructions and any untrained peson would be able to use it."
The company went on to create the AirWrap bandage.
"It's the same thing as a medic putting his hand on the packed wound and putting body weight on it. You can stop a lot of bleeding that way," Steinbaugh said.
The problem with this traditional method is when the victim is transferred to someone else and pressure is removed: the bleeding can start again. The AirWrap bandage allows first responders to apply and hold the necessary amount of pressure with an air pump to a wound for a continuous amount of time.
The company's second recently released item is the TX Tourniquet, which according to the website has extra width and can be applied with one hand. What's more, Steinbaugh said, this tourniquet is better than the current issue in that it is reusable.
TX Tourniquet (Photo credit: RevMedX)
The product that has gotten the most attention of late is XStat, an injector that is inserted into the wound and deposits an expanding, sponge-like material to staunch bleeding in seconds. RevMedX started this design as a concept in 2009, funded by the U.S. military, and finished it in 2012. It is now waiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Once this approval is given, Steinbaugh said it opens up the door beyond the battlefield for XStat.
"We've gotten tons and tons of emails and requests from hospitals for ideas of XStat outside of military," he said.
In fact, it has been recommended that XStat could be used to stop postpartum hemorrhages, saving lives during child birth.
"It’s very apparent to everyone that 'wow, this technology not only applies to the military and in battle but in veterinary medicine, dental medicine," and more, Steinbaugh said.
The veteran medic attributes the success of RevMedX's products to extensive testing and feedback from other military medics.
"First, we build a prototype, fly to the military, set up meeting with medics and just let them chew it apart," Steinbaugh explained. "We make changes in a week, month and go straight back to the medics and show them generation two, and we tweek it from there."
Ultimately, Steinbaugh said that the company's mission goes back to one of its co-founders, Dr. Kenton Gregory, who has always wanted to "give back as much as he can to help create a solution to make a difference in the military setting."
Steinbaugh added later in an email that though the world of combat trauma could be considered a niche market, Gregory would say, "Soldiers are dying out there, we are going to continue this work because it is the right thing to do."