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October 6, 2006: Training combat medics has always been a tricky proposition. While the medics are first responders, and must be able to deal with the most horrific injuries imaginable, they don't get much prior exposure to what they will have to deal with. Unlike doctors and nurses, medic training does not get them time working with cadavers. So the first time many medics see internal anatomy is when they encounter nasty wounds while under fire. And since there are many different types of wounds, new medics often have a rough time of it during first month or two in action.

The military has been trying to use technology to deal with this problem for some time now. In the 1980s, the U.S. Department of Defense developed some interactive training videos, using laser disk technology, to provide realistic visuals for trainee doctors, nurses and medics. Since then, commercial software developers have created computer-game like software for training medical personnel, especially EMS (Emergency Medical Service) technicians who, along with their ambulances, are usually the first ones to arrive and treat badly injured personnel. But there have also been commercial "game" software for those who want to see what a surgeon does, and try it yourself (virtually, via the game.) Even medical training had adopted some of this stuff. Now the Department of Defense is incorporating this sort of thing into its combat simulations, so that medics get some more realistic training. And the other troops can, if they wish, take a look at what their medics have to get close to, and cope with.