Ranger Combat Medic Chosen USASOC Medic of the Year

Special ops medics tend to a patient.
Members of the Air Force and Italian Special Operations provide medical care during a combat search and rescue exercise in support of Eager Lion 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Lange/U.S. Navy)

FORT BENNING, Ga. -- When a Ranger is wounded in combat, a Ranger combat medic has the life of his fellow Ranger literally in his hands.

This year's U.S. Army Special Operations Command Medic of the Year takes this part of the Ranger Creed to a whole new level.

For his mentoring skills, tactical knowledge and casualty management proficiency, Staff Sgt. Christopher Hutchison, Company Senior Medic, Company A, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment has been selected U.S. Army Special Operations Command Medic of the Year.

This is the fourth year in a row that a combat medic from the 75th Ranger Regiment has been awarded this prestigious honor.

"It is so surreal. I don't think I did anything at all to deserve this award," Hutchison said. "It's humbling to even be considered for such a significant award."

Hutchison has provided medical coverage on more than 275 combat missions and has demonstrated excellence on every one of them, according to his nomination letter.

"Hutch has always been assertive with training and his combat medic skills," said Cpt. Andrew Fisher, battalion physician assistant, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. "He takes the extra time to ensure his subordinate medics are trained to the best of their ability."

During a recent combat deployment to Afghanistan, Hutchison was on the objective when an Afghan soldier suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. Hutchison was the second medic to arrive and quickly took the lead.

"Staff Sgt. Hutchison directed the application of occlusive dressings and a saline lock, provided instructions to set up a litter and hypothermia prevention dressings, provided adequate pain management and turned over all required medical documentation before loading him onto a rotary wing casualty evacuation platform," Fisher said.

Said Hutchison: "I was just doing my job. I was on target with junior medics, and they are so well-trained that I didn't have to micromanage the care they were providing."

After evacuating the Afghan soldier, Hutchison encountered one local national who sustained gunshot wounds to the chest and pelvis.

"After quickly assessing and treating the patient for life-threatening wounds, Staff Sgt. Hutchison recognized the need for additional treatment and resuscitation," Fisher said. "He recognized the patient was bleeding internally, and treated him with one dose of Tranexamic Acid and the patient responded immediately to the lifesaving measure."

Hutchison was the first combat medic to administer TXA, which is a clotting agent that until recently had been authorized for use in the pre-hospital environment by special operation forces medics.

"The patient was evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility, where he underwent multiple surgeries and made a complete recovery," Fisher said. "Staff Sgt. Hutchison received accolades from the medical providers for his assertive and accurate treatments."

Ranger combat medics are, first and foremost, Rangers first as Hutchison demonstrated during a combat mission in Kandahar Providence, Afghanistan.

After a combat engagement that involved an aerial gun run with an AC-130 Gunship, a small element from the Ranger platoon was tasked with the clearance of the known enemy fighting position. Hutchison was traveling behind the lead team as it was engaged by multiple enemy combatants from fortified positions.

"We were surprised that after the gunship engagement, the enemy was still alive and maneuvering on us," Hutchison said. "We were pinned down for just a few minutes until we reengaged the enemy combatants."

Hutchison identified the lead team was fixed by enemy fire and ran, under fire, to the team's right flank. He was within 15 meters of an enemy machine-gun position, and rounds were impacting all around him. Hutchison repeatedly exposed himself to gunfire in order to suppress the enemy position with small arms and fragmentation grenades.

"His decisive action allowed the remainder of the team to prepare for a flanking maneuver," Fisher said. "His clear and accurate reporting to the squad leader on the enemy positions, painted a concise picture on the composition and disposition of the enemy on the ridgeline."

When the decision was made to fall back to allow for another aerial gun run, Hutchison increased his fire suppression and maneuvered to cover the remainder of the squad's withdrawal. Throughout the movement down the mountain, Hutchison provided covering fire as the squad moved from position to position.

"You don't think," Hutchison said. "You react to the battle drill -- the guy was shooting at us from 15 feet away and you absolutely rely on your training; straight-up Infantry Ranger tactics."

Once out of small arms range, Hutchison moved throughout the platoon's positions, ensuring no Rangers were wounded by enemy fire; for these actions, he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Valor.

"Staff Sgt. Hutchison is a devoted and extraordinary Ranger Medic," Fisher said. "He possesses all the moral qualities and maturity needed to excel both personally and professionally. He is an immeasurable asset to our organization, and his moral compass and discipline are beyond reproach."

"He is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to bring better lifesaving measures to the battlefield," Fisher said. "His skills are second to none, and his competence sets him apart from other medics as he was chosen as a junior NCO to become a company senior medic."

Hutchison was presented with an Army Commendation Medal at an awards ceremony held Jan. 18 at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia.

Hutchison's military training includes basic combat training, advanced individual training -- combat medic course, basic airborne course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, Special Operations Combat Medical Skills Course, advanced cardiac life support, warrior leader course, U.S. Army Ranger course and the jumpmaster course.

The combat medic course is taught at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and provided Hutchison with his emergency medical technician-basic certification and qualified him as a combat medic.

Hutchison also attended the Special Operations Combat Medic Course at Fort Bragg, N.C. The intensive six-month course teaches extensive training in anatomy and physiology, kinetics of trauma, advanced trauma skills and procedures, trauma combat casualty care and combat trauma management.

Hutchison completed an emergency room/EMT rotation at Tampa General Hospital and Tampa Fire and Rescue in Florida. Upon graduation, he received a certification in advanced tactical practitioner. He also completed two rotations at what now is called the Marcus Trauma & Emergency Center in Atlanta.

Hutchison has deployed five times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom for a total of 19 months deployed.

His decorations include the Ranger Tab, Combat Medical Badge and Parachutist Badge.

He also has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Joint Services Commendation Medal for Valor (two awards), Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal (two awards), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Combat Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal.

Hutchison, a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, is married with two children. In his spare time, he enjoys snowboarding and spending time with his family. He graduated from Skyline High School in Idaho Falls.

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