skip to main content

US Army tests new cold-weather medical equipment

The US Army's medical evacuation sled includes an extra piece of plastic bolted on to provide cover for patients being pulled by snow machine. (Janes/Meredith Roaten)

As the US Army works to phase out Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSVs) and replace them with Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicles (CATVs), army medics are trying out a new sled for evacuation in the Arctic environment, medical officers said during the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center (JPMRC) 24-02 training rotation.

CATVs can perform medical evacuations, but there were not enough of them to sustain the patient load, said Captain Loyal Farley, surgeon for Battalion 3509. The 11th Airborne Division has SUSVs, but they are “outdated or unreliable”, making sleds pulled by snow machine (alternatively known as snowmobile) the best option for the exercise that took place from 12 to 22 February, said First Lieutenant Stephen Meyer, physician's assistant for Battalion 3509.

Earlier, the army has used the HDT Global Ahkio Sled Kit to evacuate patients in the training rotation. However, the stock sled can allow snow to pile up on the patient and can only be pulled by foot, extending the time a patient is exposed to dangerous cold, said Sergeant Gavyn Gentry, an exercise planner with the 11th Airborne Division.

“Last year, we had soldiers just show up winded … they were spent” from pulling sleds on snowshoes, said 1st Lt Meyer. One SUSV used in 2024 broke down within 48 hours, while last year an inoperable SUSV prevented any evacuations using that platform, he noted.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...