Monday, August 13, 2012

The Hard Choices of Combat Medics

By Donald Sensing

the Madness of the Combat Medic: The Hard Choices a Medic Will Face
A combat-veteran medic writes of treating the combat wounded. Read the whole thing. I have to tell you, I hardly could.

The responsibility to a 19 year old that is crying piteously for his mother as he slowly bleeds to death from a wound to his leg that tore into his pelvis.  You simply can't plug a hole that big.  You can give some half measure to help, but there is usually never one casualty, so you can not "waste" your time on a man you simply can't save.  These decisions are made in a heartbeat, in the time it takes to look a person up and down.  Your platoon sergeant and leaders may call for a 9-line medivac, their battle buddies will stay with them try to tell them it'll be alright, but you know.  You know that it will not be alright.  
I have heard men ask me "am I going to be ok?"  
You never say no.  You never tell the truth.  Sometimes you don't speak, but more often than not you have to lie.  You can not tell a man whose scared to death that he has only a few minuets to live.  You have to force a smile and give them as much comfort as you can.  Later this moment will haunt you.  It will haunt you that you lied, and you will wish that you could somehow have made those words true.  You send him off to whatever lies after death, with a lie.  But it is better you tell this lie, than a poor young man spends his last minuets in abject terror.  
Thankfully I have only had to lie to a person in this manner just once ... .
He ends, "Before God, Before their Mothers, they call for me.  I am the Medic, and I will always come for you."

I recall reading Stephen Ambrose's observation that in World War II, the military specialty with the highest percentage of its soldiers decorated for heroism in action were medics. Infantrymen have spoken of being under fire, lying as flat as they can on the ground and trying to get into the ground, when the call goes out, "Medic!" (or in the Marines, "Corpsman!"). Then, with fire whizzing all around and the grunts cursing  buttons on their shirts for being so thick, they see the medic stand up, run through the incoming fire and kneel beside the stricken one to treat him, apparently oblivious to the instant death tearing through the air only inches away.

HT: Bayou Renaissance Man

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