3.3 Military Medic to Civilian
This series of blog posts was developed for the Fine Literature Book Club on Facebook. Crossing the Line was their April 2022 group read, and I was honored to lead the discussion.
Dr. Patterson gave orders to the nurses and then clasped his hands behind his back. “Nathan, the nurses tell me you were in Afghanistan. I was in Desert Storm.” He examined the decompression sites. “You two have done some excellent work here.”
It can be difficult for returning soldiers to transition to civilian life. This is true for military medics, too. Because paramedicine and military medicine do not completely overlap, the move from one to another isn’t smooth.
Military medics bring great skill to EMS as we have seen in this section. They often have more extensive training in trauma than the average street medic. However, their skills in other areas, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics, etc. may be lacking. Their place is valuable in our public safety systems, so it’s important that we build educational models that support the acquiring of the remaining needed skills.
The National Registry Emergency Medical Technician exam is the entry point for most people into EMS (there are states that still do not use it, but they are dwindling). Many states, though, do not require the NREMT license to be maintained. This is similar in the military. Preparing for and taking this exam—and especially maintaining the certification—helps military medics make the transition to civilian service after leaving the military. “The vast majority of military medics are in the Army. Known as 68 Whiskeys, Army medics in recent years have been required by the military to maintain National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification at the EMT-basic level (the Army also requires its special ops medics to take the National Registry paramedic exam). The Air Force also requires its medics to pass the National Registry exam, though not to maintain certification. The Navy at one time required the National Registry exam but no longer does, says Severo Rodriguez, NREMT executive director.”
‘After getting out of the military in 2012, [Dennis] Lizotte went back to Iraq working as an EMT for a civilian contractor. With his wife working on her Ph.D. at Michigan State and a 7-year-old daughter at home, he’s eager to get a job as a paramedic, and then possibly continue on to nursing school.
“You’re taking people who have seen the worst of the worst injuries and putting them on the streets of America and letting them help, any way they know how, which is with compassion and caring,” Lizotte says. “We definitely have received the tools and experiences that allow us to be fit for the opportunity to do that.”’