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Fighting Two Wars: The Enemy and Heat

DefenseArmed Forces

American soldiers--caught in the crossfire of fighting the enemy and the heat brutal heat in the Middle East.

Christie Redrow isn't a soldier but she is a volunteer on the frontlines of science.

Christie is taking part in study at the Texas Health Dallas Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine where Dr. Craig Crandall is a leading expert on thermoregulation.

Dr. Crandall's team is trying to figure out how a heat-stressed body responds to bleeding on the battlefield.

And in Afghanistan and Iraq the temperatures soar.

"It's so profound that in order for them to regulate temperature appropriately they need to put a lot of blood into the skin," Dr. Crandall said. "Which means now there is not enough blood available to profuse the brain."

To recreate hot battlefield conditions--Christie wears a suit with tubes so that hot water can be circulated--then it's into a heated chamber--and into a hot box that's sealed so there is no ventilation.

Christie also swallows a high tech pill that will record her core temperature.

The room temperatures will rise to about 103 degrees.

Christie recently took part in the Hotter than Hell 100 bike race.

After ten minutes in the box, it's exactly that--hotter than hell.

"This feels a little hotter because I was riding and so I had air going into my face," Christie said. "I'm sitting here with hot water on my legs so it's pretty hot."

To recreate bleeding--negative pressure causes blood to slowly pool into her legs--until she nearly faints which is part of the plan.

Dr. Crandall believes the study could have far reaching impact--from the streets of Baghdad to streets of Dallas.

"If EMS approaches a police officer who is clearly hypothermic and has experienced a gunshot and is bleeding, we believe our data will prove to be beneficial," Dr. Crandall said.

The findings will be published in military journals--as for Christie--she learned a lot about soldiers.

"It gives you a whole new perspective of what they go through," Christie said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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