Little did I know, the Army had plans of its own. Upon my arrival at Fort Sam Houston, I found out that a lot of other EMTs and even paramedics had the same idea I had. After about a week, we realized that other than basic first aid and starting IVs, the Army was not going to teach us anything we had ever learned before. In essence, they were going to teach us how to take care of patients under more mundane conditions. Oh yeah, we trained in the field learning to ford a stream with a patient in tow on a litter and how to low crawl through the mud dragging a litter with an angry combative patient on it. We braved simulated artillery rounds going off all around us while we crawled through the woods. We were taught that in the heat of battle, when others might be moving back, the medic moves forward toward that voice yelling "MEDIC!!" I had a blast in that part of my training, but that wasn't the bulk of my training. That was all part of being a soldier. The bulk of the training was much more than blood and guts, though I did not appreciate it at the time. A lot of people think that military medics are trained to be junior doctors. Hell, some medics thought of themselves as junior doctors and some of them were.
Medics are now trained to the basic EMT level or beyond. They were in the testing phase of that in the late 1980's. Yet, that still remains a small part of their training. The basic EMT course was about 120 classroom hours, or roughly three semester hours. The basic combat medic course was roughly 400 hours, or 25 semester hours. Even at that, we were barely trained to perform the following duties:
- Administer emergency medical treatment in a battlefield environment
- Assist with outpatient and inpatient care and treatment at forward aid stations and in the hospital
- Interview patients and record their medical histories
- Taking patients' vital signs
- Draw blood and prepare for laboratory analysis
- Keep health records and clinical files up-to-date
- Administer oral, intravenous and injectable medications
- Administer stabilizing treatment and triage
- Plan and conduct evacuation from the battle field and provide emergency care enroute
- Preventive medicine
- Field sanitation
- Clinical medicine
- Supportive care in the event of delayed transport often under hostile fire.
The Essence of Survival Medicine is Excellent Nursing Care
Learn first aid and how to start IVs and insert airways. Learn EMT and paramedic skills. However, attend a nursing assistant training program also or better yet an LPN program to learn those skills that will make a difference in a patients life or death struggle over the long haul.