Emergency codes, ropes training prepare Army flight medics

KSAT gets rare behind-the-scenes look at hands-on flight medic training

SAN ANTONIO – An Army flight paramedic must be prepared to deal with battlefield injuries, natural disasters, severe weather rescues and everyday medical emergencies on base. 

Hands-on training is what prepares them for any situation, and with the speed and adrenaline of a real emergency, the students run their daily practice code.

"We're going to shock. Everybody clear?"
"Delivering shock. OK, back on compressions."

"We had a pretty large team, which was nice; something we're not necessarily afforded in the back of an aircraft," Skylar Daugherty, a flight medic student, said.

This time, it was Daugherty's turn to run the code, with his fellow students following his commands.

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"Here, we're just working a standard code. We hit him with electricity, try to stimulate his heart, bring it back to where we want it, had a few drugs we put on board. It's just an algorithm you work through on something like this," he said.

Daugherty is almost three months into the intensive nine-month program that will prepare him for his future deployment to the Middle East. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio runs the  Army's chosen flight medic program.

"I think it's teaching you to be able to manage multiple patients at once, manage a team, manage yourself, in time crunches," Daugherty said.

One day, students in the program are running fast-paced codes. Later on, they'll do other types of hands-on training, like high-intensity rescue training with ropes.

During the day of ropes training, the students learn to work the pulley system and deal with a patient during a rescue mission.

"We talk about the gear. we talk about how to utilize it, how to set a system like this up, whether it be on the side of a hill or the side of a building or off the side of a top of a cliff,"  paramedic instructor Chris Calk said.

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One team went down to where a student was acting as the patient. The team strapped the patient into a rescue stretcher, communicating the whole time with a second team at the top a steep hill. The second team was methodically hoisting the patient up with a series of ropes.

"It's not just patient care, it's a lot of difficult patient handling," Calk said in explaining how these drills make the medics more well-rounded.

By the end of the program, the students are able to save lives in almost any emergency.

About the Author:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.