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A GLIMPSE INSIDE TACTICAL MEDICINE TRAINING
While police are regularly shouldered with the job of neutralizing a threat, the task of tending to the injured while an active shooter looms in the foreground is both extremely stressful and perilous.
But proper training can make such situations at least more familiar.
That's where Tactical EMS Training, or TEMS, comes in. For the last several years, a handful of police officers and EMTs have led a week-long seminar at the Waukesha County Technical College to bring law enforcement up to speed on the latest modalities for applying triage care while the bullets are flying.
At the April course, 28 MPD officers and EMTs studied, in classrooms, the Tactical Emergency Casualty Care guidelines for civilian EMS and law enforcement. The development and implementation of this course is taken straight from the pages of the Department of Defense's requirement to establish mission-specific combat casualty care.
On the final day of the class, they put what they've learned to the test in three ultra-realistic scenarios. I was fortunate enough to join them.
Scenario one: "cult house," with active shooter and an unknown number of wounded
After grilling out for lunch, the tone of officers becomes much more serious as they go through a safety check to make sure their real guns have been replaced by "airsoft" pistols and rifles. The instructors, led by MPD Officer Chad Stiles, literally frisk each and every one of them.
"This training can mean life or death to officers," says Stiles. "We have taken evidence based military medicine concepts and adapted them for the law enforcement setting to treat injuries that can kill an officer or other victim in 3-5 minutes. Even given the fact that we have one of the best EMS systems in the state, and access to a hospital in less then 10 minutes from anywhere in the city, if the officer can't get to that definitive care due to an unsafe scene or prolonged extrication time, they will die."
The group is split up into three teams, and they're given the rules of engagement: "deadly" force is authorized, but officers must be careful not to hurt the "victims" or the "suspects."