Sunday, February 17, 2008
Beyond EMT-B Training
After focusing on medicine from the Emergency Medical Technician Basic view, we transitioned into a military medicine focus. Equipment and techniques have evolved considerably since my last deployment in '03-'04. Several standards of treatment that were established well before I got in back in the '90s have been found wanting and discarded. New vehicles, like the medical Stryker above, are amazing to someone who started out with ambulances consisting of essentially a box mounted on the back of a Chevy truck chassis. Wound treatment doctrine and techniques are far beyond the trinity of a bandage, pressure bandage, tourniquet technique that I learned in medic school. However, some things don't change, like the Army's love affair with the 18 gauge needle for IVs:
(There's something about an 18 gauge in the hands of a new medic that can really inspire fear. )
The training took place in both classroom and field, with the field environments varying considerably. Moving a 250 patient with personal equipment through a grass field is completely different than moving the same patient up a flight of stairs from an unlighted basement.
Overall, I can say that the instructors that ran our combat medic training were intensely dedicated. The great majority of them were reservists, some of whom had been activated for over three years doing this job. Many of them had been deployed to combat theaters before that, and had insights and experience you couldn't get from a manual. This training is standard for deploying medics now, and it's a great improvement over what was available to me during my first pre-mobilization experience. This kind of knowledge is gained at a cost, and I'm thankful on the emphasis placed on getting out to the people who will need it.