The US Army’s Army Field Manual, released last week, recommends soldiers use “extreme caution” in handling cases of respiratory illness, such as COPD.
The manual is a revision of the Army’s basic training manual, issued in 2014, which recommends “the avoidance of aerosolized and aerosol-laden aerosol inhalants.”
But the new manual doesn’t include language to discourage troops from handling cases, nor does it explicitly recommend soldiers avoid contact with COVID patients.
“We are not going to force soldiers to use extreme caution when handling respiratory illness cases,” Lt.
Col. Daniel G. Zweig, a spokesman for the Army, told National Geographic.
“Our emphasis is on getting people back into the field and on maintaining that vigilance.
The Army is not mandating that.”
Gaining access to military facilities for soldiers to interact with patients is already voluntary for troops under training, but the Army is using a program it created in 2018 to train more than 500 soldiers in the use of respirators.
The program has since become a model for other military services.
The Air Force, for example, is using its own program, called COVIDResuscitation, to train and supervise airborne personnel handling cases.
“We’re seeing the Army taking advantage of this to train soldiers on how to handle respiratory illness,” says Scott C. Rinaldi, a bioethicist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
The military has been trying to improve its use of respiratory equipment since the mid-2000s.
The Pentagon has said it wants to train as many soldiers as possible to use respiratory gear.
“The goal is to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses by as much as possible,” the Army said in a statement last year.
“But the Army needs to make sure its medical personnel are able to use respirators safely.”