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#1
Old 11-02-2009, 02:40 PM
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Any military personnel with combat medic experience?

So I'm been working on a book, off and on, for several years. I should say that this is all in the "plot" and world building stage and nothing has been finalized and I have not actually started writing. I'm wanting to flesh out some of the characters before I start writing, and the beginning is important.

That said, I'm considering that one of my main characters is a combat medic, but I know next to nothing other than what I can read on wikipedia.

So other than some tasty anecdotes from people that have been/known personally a combat medic, I have some questions.

1.) Combat medics are analogous to EMTs right? Less training than a doctor, more than basic survival medical skills that is taught in basic training?

2.) Would it be reasonable that the medic is close friends with a member of the basic infantry? Maybe from high school, but they could have just met in basic.

3.) I know generalizations are bad, but what kind of people become combat medics? Personality-wise, intelligent/caring enough to be a doctor, but likes a bit more of a thrill? My character is such at any rate, but I didn't want him to go the doctor route due to where the plot is going.

4.) Does every mission typically have one in the group? I'm talking modern military such as present day Iraq or Afghanistan.

Also, if you are/were an EMT, I wouldn't mind some feedback too, such as what you enjoy most about the job, what drew you to the profession, and what kinds of personalities you have worked with/beside.
#2
Old 11-02-2009, 03:19 PM
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Combat medics are EMTs. It's a required part of their duty to hold current NREMT certification. They have more freedom than civilian EMTs though. A combat medic will push more meds, stick more needles, and cut more live tissue than any EMT-B in the civilian world.

It is very reasonable that a medic would be close friends with a member of the infantry. However, they can't meet in Basic. Infantrymen go through a seperate Basic training that is only for infantry. (We're talking about the Army, right?)
They could have known each other from high school, but they would have arrived at their units at different times. A medic's total training takes like 6 months. An infantryman's training takes like 13 weeks. So if they both left out of high school, they will arrive at different times to their first duty station. So don't have them on the same bus together or anything like that.

Yes, every single infantry mission has a medic attached. Combat medics are decentralized. There is one medic attached to every platoon. So in a platoon will be roughly 4 squads of 9 men each. They all share one medic. That medic takes care of the guys even in garrison. He treats them in garrison, trains with them in the field, and patrols with them on mission. It is not uncommon or unreasonable for the medic to have close friendships with some of the guys in the platoon.

I've seen all types become medics. Can't even begin to generalize.
#3
Old 11-02-2009, 03:32 PM
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You can't even say which types become the best or least effective ones?
#4
Old 11-02-2009, 03:52 PM
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1.) Combat medics are analogous to EMTs right? Less training than a doctor, more than basic survival medical skills that is taught in basic training?

Probably closer to a paramedic in regards to skill and training

2.) Would it be reasonable that the medic is close friends with a member of the basic infantry? Maybe from high school, but they could have just met in basic.

They may have met in basic, but wouldn't have seen much of each other after that, until work-up training (a few years worth of training)

3.) I know generalizations are bad, but what kind of people become combat medics? Personality-wise, intelligent/caring enough to be a doctor, but likes a bit more of a thrill? My character is such at any rate, but I didn't want him to go the doctor route due to where the plot is going.

Alot of them are working towards being a doctor, Physician's assistant or nurse

4.) Does every mission typically have one in the group? I'm talking modern military such as present day Iraq or Afghanistan.

Yes.

Also, if you are/were an EMT, I wouldn't mind some feedback too, such as what you enjoy most about the job, what drew you to the profession, and what kinds of personalities you have worked with/beside.
#5
Old 11-02-2009, 04:57 PM
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Oh, sorry, I was using EMT and paramedic interchangeably. I should know better too because my dad is a career firefighter and has always had to keep his EMS/EMT licensing up.
#6
Old 11-02-2009, 08:18 PM
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I just re-read my post and realized it's worded a little off.


One thing - I am Canadian, but I would imagine it's pretty similar...

The way our training is set up is everyone does Basic together. Then you would be sent for further "trade" or "career" training. For an infanteer, that means more (and tougher) training similar to basic - very physical, army-specific skills and fieldcraft.

A Medic would proceed into their different level trade training.

Once it was determined that a battalion is being deployed, then the support trades 9including medics) join the battle group for "work-up" training. They may or may not be together for the entire thing.

Then off to deployment.

That's how I understand it, I am sure some more experienced military types will correct any errors.
#7
Old 11-02-2009, 08:35 PM
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That is how it was for me, though some people say basic to mean the training after bootcamp, where I say basic and mean bootcamp. I understood what Bear was talking about though.
#8
Old 11-03-2009, 10:39 AM
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It's considerably different for the Marines. They have Navy corpsmen attached with specific fleet marine force corpsman training. And while they remain fleet corpsmen, after this training they are accepted as Marines and are entitled to wear Marine uniforms when attached to Marine units.

A pretty good recent treatment of this was in Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley. His father, John, was a pharmacist's mate and a FMF corpsman who fought in the battle of Iwo Jima.
#9
Old 11-03-2009, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
That is how it was for me, though some people say basic to mean the training after bootcamp, where I say basic and mean bootcamp. I understood what Bear was talking about though.
Just to ensure that you do understand what I'm saying:

In the US Army, there is Basic and there is Advanced Individual Training.
A bunch of different soldiers with different jobs will all go to Basic together and then they will split up and go to whereever their "job" training is done at.
So a medic, a truck driver and a cook could meet in Basic and become friends and then after Basic, they each ship off to their respective AITs. Then, they could later meet up in their first unit together, albeit at different times.

HOWEVER, an infantryman does not go through Basic and AIT. He goes through a completely seperate animal called OSUT (One Station Unit Training). He will complete his equivalant of Basic and AIT all at the same place and only with other infantrymen. So an infantryman and a medic cannot meet at Basic the way a cook and a medic could.
#10
Old 11-03-2009, 08:23 PM
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Infantry aren't the only ones wearing the combat patch. The Global War on Terror/Global Struggle Against Extremism/Long War/Overseas Contingency Operations/This Thing Going On What With The Kids These Days isn't a WW2 or Korea, where infantry is infantry and cooks are cooks and never the twain shall meet. One of the first army units to have real casualties was a supply unit, the guys supposedly "in the rear with the gear" protected types. Sure there's lots of door kickers today too, but they're not necessarily going to be 11 Bang Bang. Anyone over there is technically at risk, although understandably a story about door kickers is going to be a lot more interesting than one about a personnel specialist on Camp Victory. If you want a real war hero job, try a transportation company in Iraq 04-06. Those convoys were no joke.
#11
Old 11-03-2009, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
HOWEVER, an infantryman does not go through Basic and AIT. He goes through a completely seperate animal called OSUT (One Station Unit Training). He will complete his equivalant of Basic and AIT all at the same place and only with other infantrymen. So an infantryman and a medic cannot meet at Basic the way a cook and a medic could.
I did not know this about the Army. I'm pretty sure in the Marines we all did the same bootcamp and then went to our specific training. I can't say that I specifically remember any Infantry folks myself though(I was Audio/video and it was almost 15 years ago). I love these boards.

Last edited by Epimetheus; 11-03-2009 at 08:55 PM.
#12
Old 11-04-2009, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skylark View Post
Infantry aren't the only ones wearing the combat patch. The Global War on Terror/Global Struggle Against Extremism/Long War/Overseas Contingency Operations/This Thing Going On What With The Kids These Days isn't a WW2 or Korea, where infantry is infantry and cooks are cooks and never the twain shall meet. One of the first army units to have real casualties was a supply unit, the guys supposedly "in the rear with the gear" protected types. Sure there's lots of door kickers today too, but they're not necessarily going to be 11 Bang Bang. Anyone over there is technically at risk, although understandably a story about door kickers is going to be a lot more interesting than one about a personnel specialist on Camp Victory. If you want a real war hero job, try a transportation company in Iraq 04-06. Those convoys were no joke.
Are you responding to something in this thread?
#13
Old 11-04-2009, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
I did not know this about the Army. I'm pretty sure in the Marines we all did the same bootcamp and then went to our specific training. I can't say that I specifically remember any Infantry folks myself though(I was Audio/video and it was almost 15 years ago). I love these boards.
That is how I understand the Marine Corps. There is one boot camp that all attend, and then they go off to their individual "rate?" training. I recall the scene from Full Metal Jacket where he's telling everyone what jobs they will ship off to. Most of them were "0300, Infantry". Then there was the occassional other job and then there was Joker, "Military Journalism". HA!

Not the Army, though. Infantry stays seperated. I think tankers have their own OSUT, as well. In fact, I think most (all?) combat arms have their own OSUTs.
#14
Old 11-04-2009, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
That is how I understand the Marine Corps. There is one boot camp that all attend, and then they go off to their individual "rate?" training. I recall the scene from Full Metal Jacket where he's telling everyone what jobs they will ship off to. Most of them were "0300, Infantry". Then there was the occassional other job and then there was Joker, "Military Journalism". HA!

Not the Army, though. Infantry stays seperated. I think tankers have their own OSUT, as well. In fact, I think most (all?) combat arms have their own OSUTs.
So, if I may hijack, how do you know that you are going into infantry (or armor) before you even go to basic? I guess I was under the impression that it worked like the Marines; you all go to basic and then from there go on to your your requested/assigned areas.

Do you really have that much of a say in what you're going to do as a new recruit that they'd send you to separate armor training from the beginning?

Thanks

Last edited by jk1245; 11-04-2009 at 11:39 AM.
#15
Old 11-04-2009, 11:47 AM
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As for people you meet in basic, a lot of the time, there are only three or four jobs in a given company. It's mainly due to scheduling. If a certain class starts on, say, October 15th, then all those guys (or gals) have to go to Basic in early August. So they tend to end up together. My platoon consisted of about 18 intelligence analysts, 13 truck drivers, and 8 engineers. The company next to us, though, would have something entirely different.

So for your story, it might add some realism to have a character narrate that his Basic company had mostly X, Y, and Z so he thus met a lot of people in that field.
#16
Old 11-04-2009, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by jk1245 View Post
Do you really have that much of a say in what you're going to do as a new recruit that they'd send you to separate armor training from the beginning?
Yes. 100% Guaranteed in your enlistment contract. It's one of the selling points of joining the Army over the Marines--the Marine Corps cannot promise you a particular job. With the Army, you decide what you want to be. When you speak to an Army recruiter, you decide on your job. They give it to you in writing before you ever leave MEPS. Your ship date and Basic start date all depend on your particular chosen job. If you have an uncommon job, you may have to stay in the Delayed Entry Program and wait several months before you ship off to Basic. This is to ensure you don't finish Basic training 5 months before your AIT starts.
#17
Old 11-04-2009, 03:20 PM
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A friend is a Royal Marine and a combat medic. First he qualified as a Royal Marine - a huge feat in itself - then as a combat medic. He had extensive medical training and was a great success in the U.K. hospitals at which he trained. He's had a number of tours in danger zones and has saved many lives.
#18
Old 11-06-2009, 12:10 AM
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I went through basic training and Basic Medical training in 1969. My MOS was 91B. I spent all of 1970 and half of 1971 and half of 1972 in Viet Nam. At that time you couldn't get a Combat Medic's Badge until you had been a medic in the infantry for 30 days. So if you were a REMF (Rear Echelon MF) your entire first tour (I was), you were NOT a combat medic. It was the same as the requirement for getting a Combat Infantryman's Badge. I am pretty sure that these were the rules in WWII and Korea. I got the CMB on my second tour.

Later, the invasion of Granada happened and because it only lasted 5 days, they eased the requirements for getting a CIB or CMB quite a bit. You pretty much only had to have smelled cordite to get one.

At the time of my medical training, it only lasted two months. They were training us to be infantry medics and keep wounded soldiers alive in the field for 15 - 20 minutes before they could be airlifted to a field hospital. I was lucky. When I got to Viet Nam on my first tour, I worked for a certain Doctor for a year in a Battalion Aid Station who was willing to teach any of us anything we wanted to learn. So when I got back on my second tour and really needed all of that knowledge, I had it.

I remember telling people about my Army medical training that except for IVs and medications and sucking chest wounds, I had already learned what they were teaching from when I was in the Boy Scouts.

I don't know anything about the modern Army.
#19
Old 11-06-2009, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
Are you responding to something in this thread?
Yeah, I was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Epimetheus View Post
Would it be reasonable that the medic is close friends with a member of the basic infantry?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
It is very reasonable that a medic would be close friends with a member of the infantry....Infantrymen go through a seperate Basic training that is only for infantry....Yes, every single infantry mission has a medic attached....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
So a medic, a truck driver and a cook could meet in Basic and become friends and then after Basic, they each ship off to their respective AITs. Then, they could later meet up in their first unit together, albeit at different times.

HOWEVER, an infantryman does not go through Basic and AIT....So an infantryman and a medic cannot meet at Basic the way a cook and a medic could.

There's more to the military than your basic infantry. The story can be very different whether Epimetheus bases it in Iraq or Afghanistan (or Korea 1951, or the moon), as, for example, there were/aren't many great infantry actions in the Iraq war after 2003 outside of events like Fallujah. If Epimetheus is after blood and guts, the number 1 killer in Iraq has been Improvised Explosive Devices. Truck drivers got mentioned a couple times in this thread, and I offered them as a something to cover, since it's a job quite a few people actually have "seen combat."
#20
Old 11-06-2009, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jk1245 View Post
So, if I may hijack, how do you know that you are going into infantry (or armor) before you even go to basic? I guess I was under the impression that it worked like the Marines; you all go to basic and then from there go on to your your requested/assigned areas.

Do you really have that much of a say in what you're going to do as a new recruit that they'd send you to separate armor training from the beginning?

Thanks
Since no else answered....During the enlistment process the recruiter will try and to get you to choose several fields you’re interested in. You’ll then take a test (ASVAB I believe) which will determine if you have the minimum aptitude for your chosen professions.

Stuffy
Former Combat Medic and Practical Nurse (US Army)
#21
Old 11-06-2009, 07:17 PM
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Thanks guys! I was thinking Afghanistan. Not familiar with Iraq or any of the missions, but I need the possibility of a cave for them to accidentally discover.

FWIW, it is a fantasy more than a war novel. The military part is mostly for character building and a bit of plot glue.
#22
Old 11-07-2009, 12:57 AM
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I'm a US Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician by trade, not a combat medic, but all AF EOD techs get what's called Combat Lifesaver (CLS) training before each and every deployment. So what I've got to say may or may not help you, but I thought I'd offer.
CLS is a kind of intermediate step between self aid/buddy care (what every other douchebag in the AF gets) and a combat medic, although I’m not sure the AF has an equivalent to a combat medic necessarily. CLS means that we’re combat troops first and medics second, so if we’re still being engaged by the enemy, the only thing we’re really supposed to do is apply a tourniquet to a bleeding extremity and get back in the fight. Then we move on to “continuing care” when we can: we’re trained to control hemorrhaging other ways, control shock, treat collapsed lungs, administer IV fluids, and manage airways, that type of thing.
My experience in Iraq, and I'm on my third tour right now, is that we're not really conducting operations on a daily basis... when US Army Infantry/Armored/Stryker/whatever units are out there doing their job and come across an IED or a weapons cache, they give us a call and we go take care of it. When we get a call, we roll out with Army units whose primary job is as EOD’s security. The units we roll with don’t have medics with them, typically, but each soldier there knows that EOD is CLS certified, so if something happens to one of them, we’re most likely the ones best-qualified to treat them, and our vehicle is usually the designated casevac vehicle. The EOD units I’ve been a part of in Iraq have been small, only 25-30 techs, including all our senior enlisted and officers, who don’t actually perform EOD ops, and each team (usually one team per call) is three EOD techs. I understand that the Afghan EOD flights are much more dynamic in the way they conduct their operations, though.
FWIW, the AF works like the Army in that your eventual job is in your contract as an enlistment incentive. A career field like EOD, you can get dropped from during training, but most people enlist in the AF with a job in their contract. And unless I’m remembering wrong, my brother joined the Marine Corps with a guaranteed position as an F-18 ordnanceman, so either the Marine Corps has changed, or maybe they only do that for certain jobs, I don’t know.
I don’t know if any of that made sense to you, Epimetheus, or if it helped you at all, but good luck on your book. November is a good month to work on it, being NaNoWriMo and all!
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