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Air Force Medicine bolsters medical training for non-clinical specialties

Image of Airman in uniform with the word medic on the sleeve.

Medic-X will equip all Air Force medics in non-patient care career fields with the skills needed to provide tactical clinical support in mass casualty and other emergencies. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. -- The Air Force Medical Service is adding medical training to its non-patient care career fields to increase the number of Airmen able to provide support in mass casualty and other emergencies.

The initiative, called Medic-X, equips all Air Force medics with the type of skills medical facility leaders need in situations requiring additional manpower. The initiative provides foundational, tactical clinical support that would maximize medical capabilities.

“In scenarios, such as mass casualty situations, where our medical capacity could be full, it is vital we make the most of all personnel,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Smith, Medic-X deputy team lead. “With Medic-X, all AFMS Airmen can provide some level of medical support, and ensure we still deliver high-quality care at all times.”

Medic-X team leads identified several skillsets that can be implemented across the AFMS to enable all Airmen to respond when needed. These skills include taking patient temperature, performing oral care, assisting in feeding patients, measuring a patient’s IV intake, and assessing a patient’s pain level.

“Essentially, these are skills that, when properly trained, can be performed by all Airmen across the AFMS,” said Lt. Col. Amy Russo, Medic-X team lead. “Someone who provides medical logistic support or is a health services administrator can be trained to provide basic-level patient care when needed and add lift to our clinical staff while prioritizing high-quality patient care.”

According to Smith, Medic-X is especially valuable in a deployed setting where resources and manpower are limited.

“If 30% of your deployed medical unit are medical technicians, nurses and doctors, in a mass casualty scenario, the other 70% of your medical unit is now capable of providing foundational clinical support,” said Smith. “These Airmen could then check heart rates and help patients move in and out of their beds for example. Providers would be free to treat wounded warriors requiring the most care.”

Medic-X training is still in development, but in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept has been implemented at 10 bases to provide additional clinical support.

“We have had request about ways we could train more personnel to help with testing,” said Russo. “We put together a Medic-X COVID-19 training program that has much of the same skills we had already developed, along with COVID-19-specific skills. This allowed them to use someone in an administrative role to provide support in specimen collection for testing.”

In preparation for providing additional COVID-19 testing support, non-clinical Airmen received additional training on infection control precautions required to keep them and patients safe. They were instructed on such things as properly using personal protective equipment and the correct way to accurately record a patient’s temperature using a non-contact, infrared thermometer.

Medic-X is rolling out in phases with the goal of having it fully integrated by 2030.

“As a highly reliable organization, we are always striving to be better and continuously looking for ways to maximize our capabilities,” said Smith. “Medic-X is a prime example of how we are shifting that readiness culture by ensuring we can best utilize every person we have in the fight, strengthen our medical presence, and deliver high-quality care to our patients.”

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