Military Medicine : Hip or Hype ?

This post was published earlier in the magazine released annually by the Organizers of the AFMC Illuminati Society during their 2017 jamboree. Please visit https://www.illuminatiafmc2018.com/ to check out what a great job our young students are doing nowadays.

The article in its original avatar , was intended to serve as a motivator for young medical students attending Illuminati at the Armed Forces Medical College , Pune, India

(Col MP Cariappa, an alumnus of AFMC, has been a doctor and a Public Health Specialist, for the past 26 years and has seen active duty with Airborne and Special Forces)

So without much more ado, lets begin….

The simplest approach for the young medical student or for that matter anyone, to learn about something unknown or unfamiliar today, may be just to check it out on Wikipedia, or you could read this brief summary, not long enough to slip beyond the edges of your attention span though!

The term military medicine has a number of potential connotations. In the present context, it means the science and art of the practice of medicine within the milieu of an Armed Forces, by provision of comprehensive health care, which is preventive, promotive and curative, for all ranks of the Armed Forces and their dependents, across diverse deployment paradigms. Simply put, Military Medicine is medicine practiced in the military setting, dealing with the peculiarities of military service, and the ills and ailments that can only confront a military.

While presently there may be no academic degree for Military Medicine as yet, the raison d etre for doctors in the military, irrespective of their level of medical qualifications, to be wearing a uniform and to receive basic combat training, is that that a military is the last answer that a country has to external aggression and internal strife. In such situations, doctors have to stand by the side of the fighting forces and support them right at the battlefront. With today’s scourge of terrorism rising its Hydra head, the  spectre of combat is omnipresent, and the enemy is all around. Doctors cannot be found wanting in training or response in case of an assault by an enemy that knows no rules.

The planning and practice of the management of mass battlefield casualties and the logistical and administrative considerations of establishing and operating combat support hospitals involves military medical hierarchies, peopled by medical professionals with administrative  and military exposure. The delivery of healthcare for military personnel and their dependents in non-deployed (peacetime) settings usually consists of a medical system paralleling all the medical specialties and sub-specialties that exist in the civilian sector.

Military medical personnel apart from their routine duties in providing comprehensive health care to deployed military personnel, often engage in humanitarian work and are “protected persons” under international humanitarian law in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, which established legally binding rules guaranteeing neutrality and protection for wounded soldiers, medical personnel in armed conflict. Under international humanitarian law, military medical personnel may not be attacked and not be taken as prisoners of war; hospitals and other medical facilities and ambulances, may not be attacked either. It is common knowledge that the Red cross is the protective sign recognised under international humanitarian law, and is used by military medical personnel and facilities for this purpose. Attacking military medical personnel, patients in their care, or medical facilities or ambulances, is a war crime. Likewise, misusing these protective signs to mask military operations is a war crime of perfidy. Military medical personnel may be armed, for the purpose of self defence or the defence of patients.

However, with the advent of the modern day ‘couldn’t care less’ terrorist, there are no rules that are applicable in the paradigm of asymmetric warfare. Doctors beware! Hospitals are soft targets, and hence in the military, all personnel are always on the alert and there are contingency plans and  quick response teams available on all bases. Ask yourself, when cornered by a terrorist, would a doctor plead for his life on grounds of being merely a doctor, akin to a vegetarian asking a carnivorous predator, to spare his life, being a vegetarian!

Young doctors in the Indian Army routinely provide frontline combat medical support to soldiers in the thick of battle , triaging casualties, providing expert first aid, combat Basic Life Support and Pre hospital trauma care, while arranging for casualty evacuation by road or by air. This medical support is provided in all terrains, in all climatic conditions, from Siachen Glacier to Andaman Nicobar, from the Thar Desert to the jungles of the North East.  Young doctors are there with our soldiers, up front where the action is, armed with a gun (for self defence) and brimming with confidence, with a back pack of essential medical supplies, and a prayer in their hearts. These young doctors slither from helicopters, they jump from aeroplanes, they trek through the mountains, they crawl through the jungles.

In support of the brave soldiers of the Indian Army, it is our young doctors from AFMC and other medical colleges of the country who are there with them, as their first line of medical support and succour. It is these devoted medical professionals, whose  selfless dedication it is , that saves lives! Through rain or sunshine, through storms or gunfights, through good times and in tough times……

Just have a quick look- see at one of our dashing young doctors…. Maj Ritesh Goel, a paratrooper doctor, doing what he does, with elan….

Do you have it in you, to practice Military Medicine?

For those young doctors (well, you have to be less than 45 years of age (or whatever is the latest rule )), please visit http://www.amcsscentry.gov.in/  (active only when there are vacancies available)

Or else visit http://joinindianarmy.nic.in/

 

 

 

Published by Delta Zulu Consultancy

I am a Public Health Specialist with a passion for sustainable promotion of human co-existence with the environment! My areas of interest and expertise are Health Risk Communication and Community Engagement, Food Safety, Environmental Medicine and Mass Gathering Medicine. I believe in leveraging the power of technology to capture the imagination of people to inspire them to achieve their health potential, in a sustainable manner. I aspire to empower my partners and motivate stake holders to consistently seek 'work around' solutions, while hoping to achieve an utopian ideal balance.

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