War on Terrorism

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Face of Defense: Combat Medic Strengthens Skills Under Rigors of War

By Army Sgt. Amber Robinson
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 23, 2009 - Combat medics serve double-duty when deployed overseas. They must not only be ready at a moment's notice to provide lifesaving medical care, but they also have to be prepared to battle alongside their comrades.
Army Spc. Timothy Currie, combat medic with 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, said he is prepared to take on either role.

"Until there is a need for a medic on missions, I am basically a rifleman," Currie said. "In order to gain the respect of your soldiers, you must help do their job alongside them and still find time to take care of your responsibilities as a medic."

Currie, who is on his first deployment, has been outside of his forward operating base in Wardak province more than 40 times. His job as a combat medic is to accompany the battalion commander's staff on all missions.

"As a medic, you are not only responsible for yourself like most soldiers, but you are [also] responsible for a platoon," Currie said. "If you are part of a platoon that goes outside the wire on a regular basis, there is a great deal of responsibility."

Currie must ensure soldiers are cared for whether in combat or during everyday operations.

"Usually in a platoon, each soldier has a certain responsibility -- a driver has the truck, a gunner has their crew-served weapon, a 'commo' guy takes care of the radios," Currie said. "A medic is responsible for the medical gear carried on every soldier, in every truck, and in their own personal aid bag.

"When soldiers are tired, overworked and hungry there is a medic there to make sure they continue to take care of themselves, and trust me, it is probably the last thing on their mind."

Serving double-duty as soldier and medic can be taxing, but Currie said he enjoys his job.

"When I joined the Army I wanted to be a line medic," Currie said. "So right now, I am living the dream, no matter how hard it may be."

Though Currie said he enjoys the fact he has maintained 100 percent of his soldiers' well-being during his numerous missions, he always keeps the brutal possibilities of war in his mind.

"My biggest fear is losing a patient," Currie said. "No matter what I would do as a combat medic in a situation like that, I know that I'd always ask myself what I could have done better. I know it would be difficult to fathom because these are my guys. I spend all my time with them. It's not like in a hospital setting where I'm treating just someone off the street. These are my comrades, my fellow soldiers."

(Army Sgt. Amber Robinson serves with the Task Force Spartan public affairs office.)

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