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Friday, December 9, 2011

EMS Training for Critical Incidents

Simunition scenario during TEMPO training
Police training was a topic in October during the Saturday Symposium at the State Fire Chief’s Conference in St. Cloud. Fire Chief Jeff Piechura of the Northwest Tucson Fire/Rescue District reviewed the mass casualty shooting call that occurred on January 8, 2011 that resulted in six deaths and 13 injuries, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Chief Piechura credits the actions and training of the first-arriving police officers—as well as the help of bystanders—with saving the lives of many of the wounded. The police officers had recently been trained in how to handle gunshot trauma victims with the use of quick clot and tourniquets. The Chief said some of the victims looked so good at the scene due to the work of the fast-acting responders that they confused his triage officer—in reality, the victims were actually severely injured.

Piechura also credits the strong relationships between police, fire and EMS—and the understanding of each other’s roles—with the success of the operation. “We grew up together,” he said when referring to the longstanding relationships between the police, fire and EMS commanders, supervisors, and responders at the scene.

Officer applies a tourniquet
Earlier this summer I had the opportunity to learn about another current facet of EMS training for critical incidents. Mylan Masson, the Director of Law Enforcement Studies at the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Education Center in Brooklyn Park, introduced me to TEMPO (Tactical Emergency Medicine for Peace Officers). To say TEMPO training is intense would be an understatement. It is skill- and scenario-based training in how to save gunshot victims, including yourself and your partner.

The course is taught by HCMC tactical medics who instruct officers on how to survive by controlling bleeding, applying tourniquets, and psychologically retaking control of a violent scene.  What impressed me the most was the incredible level of performance by the officers. They “got it” and quickly demonstrated a mastery of the techniques even in the high-stress, dark and chaotic environments with Simunition rounds coming at them.

Once again, we see the factors of relationships and training coming together. When police receive lifesaving training from local medics—and when local EMS, fire and police departments have solid relationships—the public is well-served.

Responder Safety = Public Safety

Up next time…retroreflectivity markings and emergency vehicles.

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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