Sunday, February 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I ran across this by accident tonight. These are a couple of guys from my unit during our deployment in '03-'04 in Iraq. They're not representative of the whole unit, but the video demonstrates just how much fun you could have in northern Iraq in early 2003. E.g., not much.
Please note: I am not any of the people in this video. I am especially not the guy, who shall go unnamed, who feels free to enjoy his beverage while standing in burning shit fumes.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
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.
Monday, February 11, 2008
A few images from some completed training. Our unit spent several weeks at Camp Bullis completing courses designed to bring medics (now "healthcare specialists"; I still prefer the term medic; newer isn't always better) up to speed before deployment. The first phase was EMT-B (Emergency Medical Tech, Basic) review, or for those of us who had let our registration lapse, review and boards.
Our first stop was in our new quarters, which quickly earned the name "pig huts". The first several days, you would see soldiers doing a great imitation of chickens looking for feed in a barnyard as they were constantly looking at the ground for old nails to hang clothes on. Nail placement was a achieved with the Mark I BFR (Big F****** Rock) we found outside our door.
The Army is big on intensive learning, done quickly. Also lots of hands on with some pretty advanced simulator mannequins. Good training, although there's a definite need to upgrade the facilities at the post we were at. We practiced with some fairly expensive mannequins in a building that was a gutted cooking facility that probably dated from the 1940s.
Our particular unit did well, with the two of us who sat for EMT-B boards both passing. Good incentive to keep the continuing education points current so I don't have to take the boards a third time. On completion of the EMT portion, we began training more oriented towards military medics, who have a greater degree of freedom in their scope of practice. More on that later.