POLICE Magazine

MAR 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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14 P O L I C E M A R C H 2 019 TACTICAL OFFICER MEDICAL LIMITATIONS Most law enforcement personnel are typically trained only to the level of ba- sic first aid. In addition, most tactical officers would lack the experience and training to assess and provide rapid tri- age for injured victims. Supervisory police personnel at the command post are preoccupied with the tactical situation, and often do not understand or recognize the implica- tions of certain illness and trauma pro- cesses during prolonged operations. For these reasons a tactically trained medical support component is crucial for the safety and health of the tactical team and critical to the success of the operation. CIVILIAN EMS CONSTRAINTS During tactical operations involving a barricade or hostage situation, tactical team commanders have historically staged civilian EMS personnel remotely for their personal safety. However, this creates problems. When called upon for medical assistance they often cannot gain access to the scene in order to pro- vide emergency medical care in a timely and efficient manner to injured victims. Often, the EMS crew is very reluctant to enter the scene because they are not convinced that the scene is absolutely safe for them to enter. By the time the scene is deemed safe, an injured officer could have already bled to death. In ad- dition, critical information necessary for proper care and eventual trauma center management is fragmented and diluted due to confusion and stress on the EMS personnel upon their arrival. Not having direct communication channels with the command post re- moves them even further from being able to support the team. To further compound the problem, without tacti- cal training they are unable to operate safely with the deployed law enforce- ment tactical unit. ESTABLISHING A TACTICAL MEDICINE PROGRAM Consideration for tactical medical sup- port can be provided to law enforce- ment agencies through a wide array of options, from civilian EMTs to sworn or designated reserve police officers who are physicians or paramedics. An agency must decide what best suits the needs of the team, and perform a de- partmental cost-benefit analysis of its own program. Possibilities for resources could sim- ply involve the assignment of selected fire department, rescue, or local EMS personnel to support the SWAT team. Other options include deciding whether local emergency physicians having frequently visited local hospital emer- gency departments while conducting law enforcement duties. It would not take long for interested police officers to identify those physicians as potential team players and who could be viewed as prospective candidates to serve as a team physician. TRAINING FOR THE TACTICAL MEDICINE TEAM Once the tactical medical team is se- lected, training issues must be ad- dressed before the team is deployed in the field. Several options exist for tacti- cally training the medical team. If bud- get constraints do not afford sending the medical personnel to a basic SWAT school, then in-house monthly tacti- cal training would be a cost effective option. A basic one- or two-week dedi- cated SWAT school should provide the essential tactical knowledge and skills required to operate safely in the tactical environment. Tactical training for medical team members is important for a number of reasons. First, no team member, regard- less of his or her position or assignment, can be an effective integral component without proper training. Second, tactically training the med- ical support personnel allows the medical component to understand all aspects of tactical operations and the risk-benefit ratio associated with each tactical decision. It also allows them to understand the roles and responsibili- ties of each team member. Finally, there is the liability issue, brought about by the nature of the aus- tere conditions that exist during tactical operations. No tactical team command- HOW TO... Relying on civilian EMS personnel staged far from an operation for medical aid is a thing of the past. Here, a tactical medic is shown training to rescue a downed officer. to train members from their respective teams to become paramedics or EMTs. is option is unfortunately a labor-in- tensive financial burden for most law enforcement agencies. If a higher level of medical care such as a team doctor is desired, a qualified physician should be sought. A qualified physician is one that has experience and training in the recognition and man- agement of medical emergencies and advanced trauma life support. Residen- cy-trained board-certified emergency physicians are specialists in emergency care and are ideally suited for this type of work. e sources for emergency physi- cians are abundant. Most police of- ficers personally know several of the PHOTOS: L AWRENCE HEISKELL Beyond rendering aid, tactical medics can serve as valuable assets in providing advice to tactical commanders.

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