Protocols for handling emergency situations, such as active shooter scenarios, have changed over the last few years. Part of that change deals with the addition of the tactical EMS training. Tactical medicine is a specialized and highly discriminating endeavor that requires intensive training, discipline and a unique relationship with law enforcement. Tactical medics have the primary responsibility of providing medical care to the SWAT team.
On Friday afternoon, members of the Portsmouth Fire Department were firing as they went downrange to the point that they came upon a casualty which they dragged behind a wall, and tended to that casualty medically.
In October, four members of the Portsmouth Fire Department will train for the elite position by taking a course titled Tactical Emergency Medical Support.
Chris Lowery, captain of the Portsmouth Fire Department, said the job of the tactical EMS is not to kick the door in or even lead the intervention, but to be behind the police officers and give medical attention to an officer who may be down, or even the shooter.
“The guys have taken on the responsibility to protect these guys (Portsmouth Police officers) medically,” Lowery said. “When we get put in that situation, it’s our job to protect their six (back). It’s a lot of extra training, a lot of classes, a lot of shooting.”
Lowery said the weapons the tactical EMS personnel carry are for their defense.
“We’re not here to kick doors. We’re not here to lead the charge. They have a job, and their job is to take out the threat,” Lowery said. “Our job is to medically treat the threat or, God forbid, an officer or one of ourselves.”
One of the people conducting the training was Portsmouth Police Officer Andy Dawes.
“They are doing excellent,” Dawes said. “It’s actually a privilege to train these guys because they are so eager to learn. They’re very professional. They know what they’re here to do and they go out and they work hard until they are able to achieve what they set out to accomplish.”
The original training was financed by Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn. The gear was paid for by Portsmouth Fire Chief Bill Raison and the Portsmouth Police Department funded the actual medical equipment.
“We are working with the Ohio Fire Academy,” Raison said. “We sent four guys back in May to the Tactical EMS class.”
Raison said the intense course consists of a five day class, made up of 16 hour days. One of the people attending that school, Scott Osborne, has, on his own, already completed the course.
“The curriculum is recognized educational content by the Committee for Medical Emergency Casualty Care,” Raison said. “All this stuff is dealing with either swat teams, tactical type law enforcement teams which attaches your medical to a tactical team, for high-risk warrants if they’ve got a swat operation, so they’ve got a medic with them.”
He said the training goes beyond that training and deals with active shooters. All local law enforcement and emergency medical agencies recently took part in an active shooter exercise staged by Southern Ohio Medical Center. The Portsmouth Fire Department participated in that drill.
“The guys that we had up there that were in the tactical stuff were the ones that we had sent to this same class,” Raison said.
Raison said the classes are conducted through Tri-Med Tactical. According to trimedtactical.com – “TMT uses concepts from Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) and Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) in conjunction with over 200 years of professional experience between the staff, to make sure that the student gets the most realistic and up-to-date training available. The TEMS course is over 60 hours of intense didactic and scenario based training in austere environments. At course conclusion, the student will have a firm understanding of their role in the tactical environment and how to mitigate the most dynamic situations that tactical units face today.”
The former protocol was for EMS personell to stay a safe distance away from the scenario until the scene was clear, then go in and tend to those who suffered injuries. That has changed.
“Basically we’re just trying to be prepared for the things that we’re seeing going on all across the country anymore,” Raison said. “It seems like every day there’s another situation, another incident has happened and (its good) to be able to be equipped to go into that tactical environment that’s not necessarily secure. They have realized that incident after incident people were bleeding to death, so the quicker we can get medical support into that situation the more lives that we can save.”
Raison said any EMS provider from EMT to paramedic can take the course. Information is available through trimedtactical.com.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.