The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio received a major contract to train military flight medics for more intensive paramedic certification.
The program is the first of its kind and the only one in the United States.
When Army medics fly out on a call for casualties, they are in rescue mode -- wrap them up and get ‘em out of there.
But the Department of Defense was seeking a higher level of training for its medics, and the UTHSC responded with a pilot program that has now turned into a five-year commitment.
Dr. Lance Villers, chair of the Emergency Health Science Department, said the program offers national paramedic certification status to members of the military, which requires 1,000 hours above and beyond medic training.
"Paramedics are trained to manage an airway," Villers said. "They can help breathe for patients. They can give a lot more medications, life-saving medications. They manage the patients that are in cardiac arrest. So they can defibrillate the heart and give medications to restart the heart. And then a lot more knowledge on just how to manage the patient from the point of injury or illness to the receiving facility."
Military officials say the training will allow paramedics on board the helicopters to make life-saving treatment plans for patients, and field medicine will become more effective.
Sgt. Billy Raines, who has been on multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan as a flight medic and instructor, said after this training, they’ll have more work to do back at Fort Sam Houston. The soldiers will take this training and modify it for combat medicine.
"We’re taking a strictly commercial, off-the-shelf civilian course for paramedic and flight paramedic certification and it’s tailored for how Life Flight flies in America. So we’re going to take the advanced medical knowledge and learn and figure how to apply it in the battlefield scenario," Raines said.
The Army awarded the UTHSC $8 million to implement the program. Under the five-year contract, 20-30 soldiers will attend each of four classes a year.