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First AID: Tactically Trained Medical Personnel Are a Critical Element in SWAT Operations

NCJ Number
Police: The Law Enforcement Magazine Volume: 30 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 28,32,34
Lawrence E. Heiskell M.D.
Date Published
March 2006
3 pages
This article describes the responsibilities of tactically trained medical personnel as members of a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) unit.
An increasing number of SWAT teams have added emergency medical personnel as team members. Some agencies have trained full-time SWAT officers as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or paramedics, and other agencies have trained medical personnel in tactical police operations. In the course of a SWAT operation, the tactical medic is in the field with the team for the purpose of rendering first aid to any team member or civilian wounded or injured in the course of an operation. Although rendering medical aid under combat conditions is one of the responsibilities of the tactical medic, his/her primary responsibility is team health management. This involves monitoring team members to ensure that each one maintains the physical conditioning necessary for effective SWAT operations. This includes the implementation of a comprehensive plan of good nutrition and exercise. Teaching team members techniques of stress management is also part of being the team's conditioning coach. Another important duty of the tactical medic is to conduct a threat assessment prior to each operation. This includes assessments of environmental conditions, the risk of fatigue, plant and animal threats, and a plan for removing patients from the scene. The tactical medic must also maintain medical records on team members and on the medical aspects of each operation. A medical briefing should be provided to the commander before and after each operation.