Life for an Army medic is just as hard as for any other soldier in the field. They work long days, and when they're not working they're often on call. These medical specialists are doing more than just performing basic medical care, and they're often doing so under fire. The Geneva Convention protects combat medics as long as they don't engage the enemy in combat, but that doesn't mean medics aren't in danger. Not every army that the United States engages has signed on to the Geneva Convention, so medics are often as much at risk as any other soldier, and they even carry weapons to defend themselves.
Since medics are the first line of medical assistance during combat, their main duties are focused on emergency treatment in the field, including the following:
- Prepping wounded soldiers for triage and evacuation
- Administering IVs and taking vital signs
- Dressing and sterilizing wounds
While that might seem like a short list, it encompasses a wide range of skills that save lives on the battlefield. While soldiers are fighting, combat medics are dressing gunshot and stab wounds, applying tourniquets and providing basic medical care for injured troops. Medics administer CPR to resuscitate unconscious soldiers, including giving mouth-to-mouth and performing chest compressions.
Medics can also assist Army doctors in the hospital or in the field, giving shots and medicine, prepping blood samples for the lab, taking vital signs and managing health records.
It's not ideal to treat soldiers out on the battlefield, so one of the medic's main duties is getting wounded soldiers to safety where they can receive proper treatment. In order to move the wounded quickly and efficiently, medics are also responsible for maintaining medical vehicles in the field. As in any emergency medical situation, early treatment can make a huge difference. Combat medics need to make sure their trucks and ambulances are reliable so they can evacuate the wounded safely.
Whether they're assisting Army doctors in a hospital setting or performing emergency medical treatment in the field, combat medics are highly respected in the Army because they're out there on the battlefield saving lives.
For more information on life and jobs in the Army, check out the links below.
- American Heart Association. "Adult Basic Life Support." Circulation. 2005.
- International Committee of the Red Cross. "Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field." Aug. 12, 1949. (March 31, 2011)http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/365?OpenDocument
- Schom, Alan. "Napoleon Bonaparte: A Life." Harper Collins. 1998.
- Schutz, Pfc. Samantha. "Face of Defense: Combat Medic Places Mission First." American Forces Press Service. Jan. 2, 2008. (March 31, 2011)http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=48556
- U.S. Army. "Careers & Jobs: Health Care Specialist." (March 24, 2011)http://www.goArmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/medical-and-emergency/health-care-specialist.html
- U.S. Army Medical Department. "68W FieldCraft." (March 31, 2011)http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/68w/DCMT/68W_Fieldcraft.htm
- U.S. Army Medical Department. "Accreditation." (March 31, 2011)http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/68w/USArmyEMS/Accrediation.htm
- U.S. Army Medical Department. "Curriculum." (March 31, 2011)http://www.cs.amedd.army.mil/68w/DCMT/Curriculum.htm