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August 28, 1991

Medical News & Perspectives

JAMA. 1991;266(8):1047-1055. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470080017003

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Military Physicians Train in Civilian 'War'  AS THE HELICOPTER approaches the landing pad outside Washington (DC) Hospital Center's trauma unit, the overhead paging system announces "codeyellow." Simultaneously, some 15 individual pagers alert physicians, nurses, and a variety of support personnel.The patient has a gunshot wound transecting the common carotid artery and esophagus. He is hypotensive and throwing up bright red blood.Recalls Frederic J. Cole, Jr, MD: "Basically, he was exsanguinating from his carotid artery into the esophagus."There's nothing unusual about Rick Cole as he relates, over a cup of coffee in the hospital's cafeteria, how this patient's life was saved. Cole looks like any young physician in any hospital.But there is a difference. Cole is an active-duty officer in the US Navy with the rank of commander. As a second-year trauma fellow and board-eligible surgeon, he is polishing his skills for the military by treating the