I Am Number 175 – Army Medic
SHOT BYSean Simpson
91B MEDICAL NCO, ARMY COMBAT MEDICS
Combat Medics are heroes in their own right. They rush into the battle to tend to the wounded, saving lives and eliminating pain where possible.
During the Vietnam War, Army combat medics were dropped into combat zones by helicopter. They treated wounded soldiers during battles and evacuated them from the battlefield in order to received further medical attention. They would continue treating wounded soldiers on the helicopters while transporting them to the field hospitals.
The sooner soldiers were treated and transported to the Field Hospitals, the higher the chance of survival. There was a 98% survival rate among wounded soldiers treated and transported within the first 60 minutes of being injured.
Traditionally, combat medics wore a red cross to distinguish themselves as noncombatants, and they carried medical equipment and medicine. They were protected under the Geneva Convention. During the Vietnam War medics stopped wearing the red cross and were issued weapons (they carried handguns and grenades). The armies encountered after WWII often consisted of insurgents who didn’t recognize the Geneva Convention and had no qualms about engaging/attacking noncombatants. In order to allow these individuals the ability to protect themselves while helping other, medics were trained and armed. To this day, all combat medics are armed and don’t wear distinguishing markings. The only physical difference between a US combat medic and any other soldier is the medical equipment they carry.
In addition to the 8 weeks of basic training that all soldiers received, combat medics also received 10 weeks of Advanced Individual Training. According to 1stcavmedic.com, the training consisted of the following:
• Basic health care and hygiene for self and others
• give shots
• Drawing blood
• Starting IVs
• Use of Splints for broken bones
• Treatment of gunshot wounds
• Treatment for Amputations
• Head wounds
• Shoulder dislocations
• Venereal Diseases
• Suturing (taught by a surgeon in Vietnam)
• Field Training: in stretcher usage, correct procedures for moving and carrying patients, techniques for approaching and treating patients under combat situations, setting up different types of tents, Air medevac
• Training films were heavily used during the training process.
• Hospital Duty: Most of the training was geared toward combat situations, however some general medical training was included for hospital duty such as making beds, bed pans, setting up and giving catheters and enemas to patients. I am sure there were a lot of other topics, which I do not recall today.
A Landing Zone or “LZ” is the area that an aircraft can land. A hot landing zone, hot LZ, or hot zone means the landing zone is occupied by the Vietcong or North Vietnamese Army. Landing in a hot zone means that the helicopter and medics will be coming under fire as they land and once they have landed.