A medic is a person who has been trained and certified as a medical assistant. Medics can be found working in hospitals, ambulances, public amusement parks, youth camps and in combat troops. There are different types of medic jobs including emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, tactical medics and combat medics. Each position requires a different type of training and certification.
The actual titles, certifications and medic training requirements vary between local, state/provincial and national jurisdictions. In the US, most areas divide medics into basic-EMT and paramedic-EMT, while some states include an intermediate position. Canada uses the term emergency medical attendant (EMA) and adds a number, such as EMA-1 or EMA-2 to designate the level of medic training the practitioner has attained.
Medic training for an EMT generally requires 120 to 150 hours of coursework including such subjects as cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid for injury victims, patient stabilization, anatomy and physiology. Training in trauma life support, field safety issues, medical terminology and electrocardiogram (EKG) interpretation is also required. Some states allow an EMT to hook up intravenous fluid treatments (IVs), while others reserve this for paramedics. All medics, regardless of their expertise level, are required to pass both written and clinical exams.
Paramedics must take between 1,200 and 1,500 hours of medic training and may earn a two-year associate degree. In some states, a person cannot begin to take the additional paramedic training until he has completed one to two years of verifiable experience as a basic EMT. In addition to completing the basic training, paramedics usually take courses in IV therapy, psychology, pharmacology, cardiology, trauma and emergency medicine.
The additional training received by paramedics allows them to perform more medical procedures. In some areas, paramedics may administer advanced airway management techniques such as a tracheotomy, which involves cutting into the trachea above an obstruction and inserting a breathing tube. Basic EMTs are limited to administering oxygen, glucose and asthma medication; paramedics can administer between 30 and 40 different medications. They are also trained in life-saving procedures involving needle lung decompression for treating a collapsed lung and electric shock therapy to resuscitate a patient’s heart.
Medic training can also be specialized. Tactical medics are experienced emergency medical personnel who take specific training in order to work with law enforcement units. In addition to the paramedic courses listed above, a tactical medic receives instruction in suturing, treating serious gunshot and knife wounds, and police training in responding to hostile situations.
Different branches of the military also offer medic training for combat medics. In the US, special pre-deployment training is required before a medic goes into a combat zone. Medics in non-combat areas have an ambulance filled with equipment at their disposal, in addition to continual contact with trained medical personnel via phone or radio. A combat medic, however, does not have this support. He must respond with just the equipment he can carry and must do his own triage, or assessment, stop the bleeding from serious wounds or amputations, and stabilize the patient enough to remove him from a hostile environment.