Medic on the battlefield
Understanding the mission prepares you to act in a crisis, says Scott Heinz.
Infantry, tank crewman, armored vehicle mechanic, cavalry scout, or medic.
Those were the choices Scott Heinz had when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His father, a medic in World War II, urged him not to take that job because “you’ll watch all of your friends die.”
“I don’t have a whole lot of mechanical aptitude and I really didn’t want to shoot anybody, so the only real choice was medic,” says Heinz, assistant vice president for digital strategy at $1.4 billion asset Hanscom Federal Credit Union at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. “I came home and Dad said, ‘I knew that’s what’s you were going to do.’ But medicine has changed a lot since World War II, and yes, I saw some of my friends die. But there was something I could do about it and I felt like I did save some people.”
Heinz served as a medic in the Army for 10 years, mostly in combat arms units. He served during Desert Storm and also did tours in Bosnia, Honduras, and Germany in addition to drug interdiction missions and assignments at the National Training Center in the U.S.
His primary duty was to take care of the soldiers in the unit, whether that was treating a cold or performing minor surgeries in the field.
“As a medic in the army you get to do whatever the doctor that’s over you thinks you’re capable of,” says Heinz, who was a sergeant when he left the Army.
The military showcased the importance of disseminating information and knowledge among everyone, Heinz says. Not only does this ensure everyone understands the mission, it prepares them to act in a crisis.
“In the military, you could be gone at any time. That’s a fact of life and accepted reality,” Heinz says. “If the commander disappears, that doesn’t mean the mission disappears.
“If you communicate what’s happening and why when it’s calm, people will understand why you’re giving them quick orders when things aren’t,” he continues.
Sharing information also leads to collaboration among team members, and often results in conversations that lead to changes in processes or solutions that are more efficient and beneficial to the organization or goal.
“If you foster a collaborative atmosphere,” he says, “amazing things happen.”
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