SERE: Medical Airmen return survival students to training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicolo J. Daniello
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape cadre subject more than 100 students at a time to a rigorous course in multiple climates. Injuries are inevitable for students and instructors, so medical personnel are nearby to provide real time assistance.

From frostbite, trench foot, heatstroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, bodily wounds and many different types of environmental injuries, the possible injuries to SERE students are numerous.

"The medics on scene think of the best course of action while keeping in mind the weather and terrain," said Master Sgt. Chris Poole, 336th Training Support Squadron section chief Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape medical operations. "The decision to call in the helicopter, hike them out to the car or send them to a medical facility needs to be made."

"All this goes through the medics' minds when responding," Poole said.

The SERE independent medical technicians, or better known as IDMTs, make it possible for SERE specialists to conduct Air Force Survival School field training.

"There's no way you can send 100 people out in the field and have them rucking, doing fire crafts and handling knives without medics on scene," said Poole. "Our IDMTs can do anything a paramedic can do and more."

According to Poole, the SERE IDMTs are a "jack of all trades, but master of none."

Physical injuries are not all that is encountered out in the field. Psychological issues arise and may affect students as well.

"Seventy-five percent of all medical calls are made for the psychologists," said Master Sgt. Gustavo Larsen, 336th TRSS SERE psychology services. "We provide support for more than 20 operations and perform psychological profiles for SERE specialist and Combat Rescue Officer selection."

"We're here as psychological oversight for the resistance training to ensure the program runs as it should, but we're also here for the students, Larsen said.

"When the students get overwhelmed they can call us," Larsen said. "We're here to get them back to the training that broke them."

SERE's IDMTs and psychologists work together to return students to training. With more than a year of training, both career fields are fully qualified to work independently in the field while keeping oversight on numerous amounts of people at a time.

"The medics and psychologists are here to help the students be more successful," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Cole, 336th TRSS SERE medical clinic superintendent. "To give them the confidence in the training provided to them and to help students be able to return with honor." 

[This is part three of a six part series covering the men, women and mission of the 336th Training Group]