Tactical Medicine is a relatively new sub-specialty in the EMS field, especially in Elk County. Recently several paramedics from St. Marys Area Ambulance Service started intensive training in this field.
Tactical medicine places a medical care provider with law enforcement officials during high-risk operations. Tactical medicine is rapid, on site medical care to an injured tactical team member, a bystander or suspect, and treating him or her on scene under fire until they can be transported to the proper medical care facility or until the tactical operation is complete. Similar to the medics in the armed forces, tactical medics give medical care in forward areas where conventional medics, who lack the necessary training and equipment, cannot or should not venture. With the provision of tactical medicine, the incidence of injury and death can be reduced, while increasing the moral of the tactical officers.
Tactical Medics also provide general medical support to officers before, during and after missions. Minor injuries and the environment can adversely affect officer's health and diminish their effectiveness.
Medics treat ill officers and provide advice on environmental issues, rest/work cycles, hydration, and food on extended operations. Preventive medicine. Medical record keeping, and medical advocacy are other services tactical medics can provide for team members.
It is of utmost importance that tactical medics be proficient in pre-hospital medical skills, and know law enforcement tactics. They must be able to gain access to and communicate with EMS providers and hospital personnel. Tactical Medics must also be prepared and equipped to participate in the tactical operations.
When the call " Medic Up" comes, the tactical medic must approach the victim cautiously-in a low crawl on the ground with their body no more than 18 inches above the floor.
Once the medic has established contact with the victim, they must then assess and maintain an airway and intubate if necessary. Ventilation support must be offered and open chest wounds sealed. Circulatory support and neurological status must be assessed, and massive bleeding controlled. The victims chief complaint must be determined and a secondary head to toe survey done.
All this is done while the medic is working in the "Hot Zone", in most cases while lying on his/her belly. Up until now, most paramedics work in what is considered a "Safe Zone". The victim is brought to them away from the hot zone area. Both the victim and the EMS are under the protection of law enforcement if needed.
With the birth of the tactical medic, men and women are now working in the "hot zone" in harms way. Now the medic is returning the favor to law enforcement by looking after them.
St. Marys Ambulance Service is lucky to boast of these medics who volunteered to take this extensive tactical medic course. It takes a lot of time, hard work and dedication on the part of these St. Marys EMS Personnel who earn the certification and patch of the "Tactical Medic".
This new form of paramedicine will offer a constant challenge and danger to all who become trained as tactical medics.