The Development and Implementation of Specimens for Accident Forensic Toxicology Investigation Kit for Special Operations Forces

Gabrielle N. Caldara*, Michelle Isbester, David Sartori, Ramey L. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: After a vehicle rollover led to the death of a military member in Central Africa in 2018, it became apparent there was a significant gap in the capability to collect toxicology samples of Service Members involved in accidents and mishaps at remote Special Operations Forces locations in Africa. Multiple misconceptions surrounding sample collection, procedures for laboratory evaluation, and methods for shipment signaled the importance of establishing a procedure and a plan to provide the necessary medical inventory to properly collect and ship samples. Materials and Methods: The Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) Surgeon's Office gathered the appropriate supplies for collection of forensic toxicology samples, and simultaneously developed a step-by-step checklist to safely and correctly perform urine and blood collection. The procedures were further improved after the completion of cognitive interviews with a Navy corpsman and Army Civil Affairs medic. Multiple shipping iterations occurred to ensure safe movement and arrival of samples at Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Dover AFB. Two Separate Specimens for Accident Forensic Toxicology Investigation Kits were generated to accommodate personnel typically associated with accidents involving vehicles and aircraft. Results: SOCAFRICA's toxicology kit supports legal and medical chain of custody requirements for investigations, and provides deployed forces in Africa with a mechanism to collect and ship samples from Africa to Dover AFB. The kits are provided to ensure these samples are successfully analyzed, thereby removing any ambiguity surrounding an accident or mishap. Conclusion: SOCAFRICA established a prepared kit with all of the materials for sample collection, accompanied by step-by-step descriptions of the procedure, and clear guidance on the proper completion of the requisite paperwork that meets medico-legal requirements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1931-1936
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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