Military Medical Ethics – Scenario Database

Injured civilians and mission safety

ID/Number: 75
Last updated: 19 Nov, 2018
Revision: 1
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"You are a passenger in a convoy that drives past the aftermath of a roadside bomb. Several local nationals are clearly wounded, and in need of emergent care. The driver in the lead vehicle refuses to stop to allow you to provide aid."

The commander justified his decision because the road is dangerous and there is a risk of being attacked. "In fact, an enemy force might deliberately cause mass casualties in a civilian population on a convoy route in order to induce the convoy stop. The enemy forces could then easily ambush the stopped convoy, causing greater damage and loss of life."

Questions for the discussion of this scenario

1. What are the perceived risks and benefits of stopping to help –as opposed to passing by– the wounded civilians?

Source: Jacob Collen, Patrick O'Malley, Michael Roy and Laura Sessums: "Military Medical Ethics: Experience from Operation Iraqi Freedom"
In: Gross, Michael L./ Don Carrick (eds). 2013. Military medical ethics for the 21st century. Farnham: Ashgate, p. 20.

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This scenario is also listed in the following categories
folder Military Medical Ethics Scenarios -> Dual loyalty and/or mixed obligations -> Conflicting roles