Most folks have seen the hit TV show M*A*S*H, and while it was mainly a comedy, it showed some of the heart wrenching and horrifying experiences of field hospital surgeons during the Korean War. What it didn’t show was the medic on the front lines giving lifesaving attention to wounded troops often while under fire from the enemy.
The U.S. Army Career site gives a lowdown on what it takes to be a combat medic including, “Job training for a combat medic specialist requires 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and 16 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, including practice in-patient care.”
The future medic will learn everything from administering emergency medical treatment to battlefield casualties, giving first aid instructions to fellow soldiers and managing soldiers’ medical readiness, medical supplies and equipment. They will assist in inpatient and outpatient medical services, and it helps to be able to communicate effectively and work under stressful conditions. Knowledge of chemistry, biology, psychology, general science and algebra, and close attention to detail is helpful.
What helps even more than what the Army tells us is that combat medics have a willingness to die, an extreme tolerance of horrific amounts of blood and guts, and the mind set to shove all emotion out of the way as they try and get the dying soldier put back together enough to get him off the battlefield, and sometimes telling him he’s going to be alright, knowing he won’t be.
I can’t even begin to imagine being able to treat someone in the field who’s been shot through the leg with a .50 caliber round, knowing that stuffing gauze bandage into the wound would be excruciating, or the horrible feeling of having to make “the Choice” of who lives or dies when there are multiple wounded around screaming in agony, limbs blown off by an IED or grenade. You can never tell them “no, you’re going to die before you even get on the ‘copter”. You look them straight on and lie to their face- usually forcing a smile of reassurance.
Combat medics save not only their fellow troops, but sometimes even those who would kill them, or children caught in a war zone. Imagine saving the life of someone who minutes before was shooting at you, shooting at your brothers and here you are giving them the same aid you have to those you’ve trained, ate, slept and watched out for.
Oh, Lord I ask for your divine
strength to meet the demands of
my profession. Help me to be the
finest medic, both technically and
If I am called to the
battlefield, give me the courage to
conserve our fighting forces by
providing medical care to all who
are in need.
If I am called to a
mission of peace, give me the
strength to lead by caring for
those who need my assistance.
Finally, Lord help me to take care
of my own spiritual, physical, and
Teach me to trust in your
presence and never-failing love.
Thank God for those angels who are willing to tread through hell of war