IDMT: Not your regular medics

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tanya Jacquez
  • 425th Air Base Squadron Medical Aid Station flight chief
In 1947, when the Air Force separated from the Army, only 1,480 service members were permitted to transfer to the Air Force Medical Service Corp. Shortly after, the service recognized the need to develop and train its own medics and established training at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama.

Training was going well until the late 1950s when the Cold War established the need for radar sites to be built across the northern frontier. These new extremely remote locations drove the need for a more advanced medics. Since these sites typically only contained less than 100 Airmen, it was not practical to assign them with a physician, dentist or support Airmen. In addition, during the Vietnam War, as small isolated stations opened up across South East Asia, the need for this hybrid Airman grew. Out of these needs, the modern day Independent Duty Medical Technician was born.

In today's Air Force, you will find IDMTs in a variety of locations. They are often the only medical asset at deployed or remote overseas locations. While stateside, you will find them at Basic Military Training, Officer Training School, Cheyenne Mountain Complex and survival school. They are the medics assigned to squadron medical elements, security forces groups and even RED HORSE squadrons. A few may even be disguised as regular medics in your Medical Treatment Facility. Trust me; they are not your regular medics.

IDMTs are like having a little medical group in one individual. IDMTs are the only enlisted health care providers in the Air Force Medical Service Corp. They can assess, evaluate, diagnose and treat any Active Duty member in the absence of a provider within their established protocols. They receive advanced training on public health functions such as facility inspections, prevention of food borne illness, disease containment, and field sanitation. They, to perform lab, logistics, pharmacy, medical administrative duties, and bio-environmental tasks such as water sampling and heat stress measurements. They can even order an aeromedical evacuation if the situation dictates.

By now you are wondering how they do it all. IDMTs attend a 13-week additional training course after meeting a long list of prerequisites. After this extensive training course, they return to their base and must complete over 150 hours of training annually to maintain and advance their skills. They must see 80 patients under the direction of a physician, 24 hours in the dental clinic, 24 hours in immunizations, 4 food and facility inspections and 4 shop visits yearly. They must maintain Advanced Cardiac Life support, Emergency Medical Technician, Basic Cardiac Life Support instructor, and Self Aid Buddy Care instructor certifications.
IDMTs are constantly getting feedback from the subject matter experts in all the areas they train and visit.

So next time you see one of your friendly IDMTs out and about, give them a high five or thumbs up. It will probably make their day. They are training and working hard to make sure you are getting the best level of medical care.