The International Society for Military Ethics in Europe
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Winning thesis – 1st Prize

Warrant Officer Sandra Maria Kürzinger (GER). Provide medical care to the enemy? Emergency paramedics between medical ethics and military mission. An empirical survey of veterans.

cover thesis 2021 HeamesFyjis Walker


EuroISME congratulates Warrant Officer Sandra Maria Kürzinger from Germany for winning first prize in EuroISME’s annual contest for the best European Masters thesis written on military ethics. She has written on the issue of: “Provide medical care to the enemy? Emergency paramedics between medical ethics and military mission. An empirical survey of veterans.” Her thesis explores how emergency paramedics during their deployment abroad decide when they have to choose between their own colleague and the enemy combatant when caring for the wounded. In addition, the aim was to find out why they decide in the way they do (motive), as no empirical studies have been conducted in this area so far. It is an inter-disciplinary study: the thesis explores international humanitarian law, the psychology of decision-making and ethics as a possible decision-making tool.

The winning author was able to evaluate 59 questionnaires filled out by emergency paramedics who have been deployed on a mission abroad at least once. All paramedics who responded have opted for the comrade if the wound was equally severe. In the case of a more severe wounding of the enemy, 25% of the emergency medical technicians chose to care for the comrade and 75% for the enemy. In the case of moderately unevenly severe wounds (loss of function of the legs of the comrade, life threat of the enemy), 87% chose the comrade and 13% the enemy.

glass trophy prize 2023

On behalf of the jury, the laudation was spoken by Maj.Gen. Dr. Juan Moliner Gonzalez from Spain. He stated that Warrant Officer Kürzinger’s thesis contributes accurately to “… clarifying military medical ethics, offering a careful analysis of this concept, resulting in an interdisciplinary approach that includes medical ethics and military ethics, both two examples of applied ethics that must be distinguished from fundamental ethics. (…). This excellent thesis,” General Moliner continued, “discusses the possible causes of the difficult decision making for military medical and paramedical. Or putting it in questions words: Are they more physicians or warriors?” Congratulating Warrant Officer Kürzinger, General Moliner added that the value of the winning thesis lies not only in the original nature of the topic, but also in the fact that it encourages further study in the area where medical ethics and military ethics meet.
The prize was awarded at EuroISME’s annual conference in Athens.

The German-language original will be published here very soon, while translations into French and English are being made.

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