U.S Army Collaborates with ME to Improve Combat Medicine for Female Soldiers

Nichole Morris and Tim Kowalewski have been awarded a Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Army to improve the quality of combat medicine training for female soldiers. The project, "Improved Synthetic Training Environment for Assessment of Medics (I-STEAM): Competency Through Objective Video Analysis," received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center. The work is focused on improving the quality of combat medicine training with an emphasis on examining and mitigating the gap in treatment outcomes for female soldiers injured in combat.

"As women take on more roles in the military, particularly in combat, there has been an increase in the reported cases of injuries and deaths of female soldiers," said PI Nichole Morris. The team links this to training design, i.e., lack of inclusion and equity with male-only or male default manikins, which leads to gender disparities in patient outcomes, with female soldiers having worse outcomes than males. Morris' human factors team will examine the usability of retrofit products to convert male manikins to female manikins, examine training influences in treatment differences across genders, and examine the biasing or other sociocultural aspects that may influence the gender gap in treatment outcomes. Kowalewski's engineering team will develop video analysis solutions (through crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence) to more effectively evaluate combat medic trainee competencies in skill performance. 

The project outcomes are expected to give guidance to the U.S. military about effective training tools to support training for the treatment of female soldiers, will help guide the implementation of countermeasures to combat bias that negatively impacts that treatment, and help to create artificial intelligence to automatically evaluate medic trainee performance to give more objective data to medic instructors about trainee’s skill competency in real-time.