AskDefine | Define medics

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Science of medicine.
  1. (slang) Individuals trained to medically stabilize people through various interventions, victims of trauma or medical events outside of a hospital setting.

Extensive Definition

A combat medic is a trained soldier who is responsible for providing first aid and frontline trauma care on the battlefield. Also responsible for providing continuing medical care in the absence of a readily available physician, including care for disease and non battle injury. Combat medics are normally co-located with the combat troops they serve in order to easily move with the troops and monitor ongoing health.
Combat medics are officially known by a variety of names. In the United States Army, medics have often been called 68Ws since December of 2005. In the United States Navy, they are known as Corpsmen(NEC-0000), they attend formal boot camp, then attend corps. school at RTC Great lakes, afterwards they can be volunteered or volunteer for Field Medical Service School, and fill the combat medic role of the United States Marine Corps, which does not have its own medical personnel. Combat Medical Technicians (CMTs) in the British Army are members of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
In most armies, medics wear specific insignia, with a prominent Red Cross on a white background. Islamic countries use a red crescent instead while Israeli medics wear the Magen David Adom (a red star of David on a white background). These symbols signify to enemy soldiers that the medic is a noncombatant, providing medical care. For many years, most medics have carried at least a side arm like the handgun and knife (and now, frequently a rifle, carbine or submachine gun), to be used as a defensive weapon. Medical personnel may be armed, but may only use their weapons to protect themselves or the wounded and sick in their care. If they use their arms offensively (i.e. attacking or assaulting), or carry arms that qualify as offensive (such as a sniper rifle, machine gun or grenade launcher), they then sacrifice their protection under the Geneva Conventions. Generally, a medic holding his/her weapon is considered to be an armed, military threat. According to the Geneva Convention, knowingly firing at a medic wearing clear insignia is a war crime.


During World War II (and before the implementation of the 1949 revision to the Geneva Convention made it illegal), there was an unwritten law of ethics between Allied and German forces whereby soldiers would not knowingly fire at a medic treating a wounded comrade. This was in stark contrast to the policy of the Japanese forces, who regarded medics as primary targets, resulting in Allied medics removing or covering their insignia.

External links


medics in German: Sanitätspersonal (Militär)
medics in Japanese: 衛生兵
medics in Dutch: Hospik
medics in Norwegian: Sanitet (våpenart)
medics in Finnish: lääkintämies
medics in Swedish: Militärläkare
medics in Chinese: 军医
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