Combat Medics in Vietnam
Before being sent into the jungle hell of Vietnam, medics received both basic training and medic specialty training. Basic training lasted between 6 and 8 weeks. After basic training soldiers chose their specialty such as a heavy gunner or medic. Medic training lasted 10 weeks. Being a medic was a busy life. The medical training consisted of the following according to 1st Cavalry Medic History:
Basic health care and hygiene for self and others, learning how to give shots Drawing blood, Starting IVs, Use of Splints for broken bones, Treatment of gunshot wounds, Treatment for Amputations, Head wounds, Shock, Burns, Shoulder dislocations, Tracheotomy, V.D, and Seizures and Suturing.
Soldiers learned about every tool at their disposal and learned about medical equipment such as plasma, surgical supplies and tablets. Most medics learned how to go into an “automatic” mode. As a Former Vietnam medic put it “I switched into automatic mode, just like before. A part of me detached itself from the rest. The detached part of me shrugged its shoulders and watched me go to work as in the drills in casualty exercises back at Fort Sam”. (Daniels, Evans Jr. Pg. 139-140) Medics learned how to go into this “automatic” mode during training to help wounded soldiers in the field.
After training when medics were sent into Vietnam medics were busy with wounded soldiers and trying to survive. As a former medic put it when he was taking care of wounded soldiers in a firefight, “Everyone had some type of wound. I soon ran out of bandages. I ripped up my shirt and cut off my trouser legs to use as tourniquets and bandages” (Pg. 140). Medics often had few supplies while taking care of wounded men. Although their equipment ranged from plasma to simple bandages, it wasn't enough most times. Many improvised by using clothing.
During a situation like a firefight it was important that a Vietnam medic was calm, even when being shot at. Wounded men and their...
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