TCCC Updates: Two Decades of Saving Lives on the Battlefield: Tactical Combat Casualty Care Turns 20

J Spec Oper Med. 2017 Summer;17(2):166-172. doi: 10.55460/PCUC-U3TV.


Background: Twenty years ago, the original Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) article was published in this journal. Since TCCC is essentially a set of bestpractice prehospital trauma care guidelines customized for use on the battlefield, the presence of a journal with a specific focus on military medicine was a profound benefit to the initial presentation of TCCC to the US Military.

Methods: In the two ensuing decades, which included the longest continuous period of armed conflict in our nation's history, TCCC steadily evolved as the prehospital trauma care evidence base was augmented and as feedback from user medics, corpsmen, and pararescuemen was obtained.

Findings: TCCC has taken a leadership role in advocating for battlefield trauma care advances such as the aggressive use of tourniquets and hemostatic dressings to control lifethreatening external hemorrhage; improved fluid resuscitation techniques for casualties in hemorrhagic shock; increased emphasis on airway positioning and surgical airways to manage the traumatized airway; faster, safer, and more effective battlefield analgesia; the increased use of intraosseous vascular access when needed; battlefield antibiotics; and combining good medicine with good small-unit tactics. With the continuing assistance of Military Medicine, these advances and the evidence base that supports them have been presented to TCCC stakeholders. Discussion/Impact: Now-20 years later-TCCC has been documented to produce unprecedented decreases in preventable combat death in military units that have trained all of their members in TCCC. As a result of this proven success, TCCC has become the standard for battlefield trauma care in the US military and for the militaries of many of our allied nations. Committee on TCCC members and the Joint Trauma System also work closely with civilian trauma colleagues through initiatives such as the Hartford Consensus, the White House Stop the Bleed campaign, and the development of National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians TCCC-based courses to ensure that advances in prehospital trauma care pioneered by the military on the battlefield are translated into civilian practice on the streets of America. Active shooter incidents, terrorist bombings, and the day-today trauma that results from motor vehicle accidents and criminal violence create the potential for many additional lives to be saved in the civilian sector. Along with the other components of the Department of Defense's Joint Trauma System, the Committee on TCCC, and the TCCC Working Group have been recognized as a national resource and will continue to advocate for advances in best-practice battlefield trauma care as opportunities to improve are identified.

Publication types

  • Clinical Conference

MeSH terms

  • Airway Management / methods*
  • Emergency Medical Services / history
  • Emergency Medical Services / methods*
  • Fluid Therapy / methods*
  • Hemorrhage / therapy
  • Hemostatics / therapeutic use*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Military Medicine / history
  • Military Medicine / methods*
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Resuscitation / methods
  • Shock, Hemorrhagic / therapy*
  • Tourniquets*
  • War-Related Injuries / therapy*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy


  • Hemostatics