By: 2nd Lieutenant Zachary Smith, USAR
While San Antonio, TX was breaking records for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees, hundreds of eager medical students were learning how to integrate themselves not only as successful military doctors but also as officers in the U.S. Army. Three weeks spent on base, and three weeks spent in the field, a complete immersion into military life took place. One particular day in the field stands out to me that I’d like to share (and please remember that it was all role play). After a busy morning of hand-to-hand combat and ravaging through breakfast, we prepared for our day of setting up a forward aid station. In this scenario our first half of the day was spent on the medical side of the operation and the second half of the day was spent on the fighting/defensive side. The simulation began with an eruption of gunshots and mortars as we were informed over the radio that “insurgents” were attacking the base and people were being injured. We were required to figure out a way to send teams out to retrieve casualties, receive those casualties at our treatment facility, stabilize the patients and immediately prepare them for evacuation. In the afternoon, we were outfitted with blanks for our weapons, which we used to fight off the “insurgents” in addition to assisting with the casualties. This is just a small snapshot into one day of six weeks we spent in Texas. Convoy operations, being in a tear gas chamber, and the m16 shooting range are just a few of the hundreds of other experiences I had. This scenario was just a quick glance into what may lie in store for us after medical school and residency. Most importantly, it gave us a strong appreciation for what the soldiers on the front lines are doing to protect our freedoms and the honor it is for me to serve them.