Coast Guard Pharmacy Technician

The Rating which encompasses the Coast Guard Pharmacy Technician is the HS or Health Services Technician.

Unlike other branches of the Armed Services, the Coast Guard is responsible for policing the waters surrounding the United States.

This includes performing water rescues for those stranded in watercraft, both commercial and private and enforcing pertinent laws while within US territorial waters.

This includes arresting drug runners, enforcing immigration policies, and making sure that fisherman are adhering to the state and Federal laws operating within the area being patrolled.

Very much like their Navy counterparts, Coast Guard Health Service Technicians have to have a broader medical knowledge as they are frequently called upon to act as first responders in emergency situations and rescues.

Due to the nature of their regular duty requirements, Coast Guard personnel are twice as likely to face more catastrophic injuries like gunshots, amputations, etc.

Health Services Technicians routinely take care of the necessary routine and emergency healthcare services rendered in larger Coast Guard clinics, in small sick bays on bases ashore, or on cutters that are actively patrolling at sea.

Unlike other service branches, the first duty station for the HS candidate is usually at a large medical clinic where the HS candidate can benefit from professional supervision from highly qualified medical personnel to help the HS to sharpen the skills needed for the to succeed in the position.

If the HS is at first assigned to independent duty, then he or she will be expected to provide care for all of his or her crew's medical needs.

An HS might also be expected to participate in search-and-rescue or medical evacuation missions or provide medical evaluation to stabilize a victim on any given mission.

Services provided by the HS Pharmacy Technician include:

  • filling prescriptions issued by appropriate medical personnel, including counting out pills, weighing and packaging
  • compounding any necessary medicines when and where needed
  • keeping pharmacy records including patient profiles
  • notation of any adverse drug reactions
  • maintain inventory records, requisitioning needed medicines, and seeing that there is appropriate stock available, especially at sea
  • maintenance and simple repair of necessary medical equipment

HS personnel might also find themselves responsible for:

  • direct medical care for other Coast Guard personnel and families
  • assisting other medical and dental officers where needed
  • performing diagnostic testing, especially in emergency rescue situations
  • taking x-rays and performing necessary clinical lab tests whenever needed
  • prescribing medications in emergency situations
  • administering immunizations whenever needed
  • performing minor surgical procedures, especially when needed to stabilize a rescue victim until appropriate medical attention is available
  • participating in deep-sea and diving rescues

After basic training, schooling for HS candidates begins with 13 weeks of the HS 'A' School located at the Coast Guard facility in Petaluma, California.

There the prospective HS will receive intensive training in anatomy and physiology, examination of the patient, evaluation and treatment of injuries and medical conditions, and specialized courses in pharmacology.

The HS will learn the appropriate techniques and gain hands-on skills required to successfully fulfill required duties.

It should be noted here that due to the nature of Coast Guard missions in enforcing state and Federal laws, personnel are required to pass set swimming and firearms handling requirements.

Due to the possibility of diseases not likely to be seen in US domestic situations, Coast Guard personnel, like other Armed Services personnel stationed abroad must be immunized for a greater range of sicknesses and have a greater functional knowledge of hazardous materials.

Those seeking to follow the HS career path should possess the desire to help people needing medical and dental attention.

A meticulous attention to detail and the ability to function well under pressure is crucial.

Having a pleasing personality and the ability to work closely with others or independently will stand the candidate in good stead.

Working medical or dental experience is extremely helpful.

Any high school or college courses in practical mathematics, physiology, biology, hygiene, inventory or other record keeping, and chemistry are a definite advantage.

To see how this experience translates to a civilian position, check with your local state's pharmacy board for more information.

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