Tactical Emergency Medical Services – a preview

As you may, or may not know…there is a little hidden underground of EMS professionals known as Tactical Medics (The term “medics” in this case is not strictly for Paramedics. It is a generalized term for all EMS providers trained at the tactical level.)

Tactical EMS came about after a series of tragedies in our nation such as Waco, TX,  the North Hollywood incident, and most recently the Burbank CA shooting. It has changed the way Law Enforcement has responded to such incidents but yet EMS still responds relatively the same way…Stand on the side lines, until L.E.O.’s secure the scene, and then we begin triage. It is a safe way to do business and we usually just clean up the mess that’s left afterwards.  Tactical EMS works on both sides of this fence of scene safety. If you picture the Police Officers in harm’s way, and then EMS is back behind cover in a “safe location” waiting for the action to end. It allows Officers to have the knowledge to provide front line emergency care, and it allows EMS to assist in retreat to cover in the event that there is an officer down.

Why have we not evolved with Law Enforcement on this purpose? There are several big city agencies, usually urban environments who have members that are designated as tactical members who will assist in SWAT callouts. This is a concept that is very much in its infancy, much like the profession in a whole. I think it is imperative that each and every organization have some sort of “Special Ops” division that has a few specially trained members for these purposes. Yes, the cost can be a hindrance up front. There are several grants and such available from the Department of Homeland Security that you can use to train members regionally.

I did my training back in 2009 with STS Consultants, (click on the link for more information about the company, and the TEMS program) at a Western Massachusetts training facility. I learned a lot about scene safety, mostly scene survey. I learned how to asses a situation before I had even walked into the house. I learned how to asses for rapid routes of egress under stressful situations with low visibility. Overall, I couldn’t recommend this program more to anyone who wants to take it. I can think a dozen times where I noticed something on scene because I have had this training that could have potentially harmed myself, my coworker, or the other first responders on the scene.

In closing, the TEMS program is an innovative solution to help save an injured member of public safety. The primary purposes of TEMS is (according to STS Consulting):

  • Recognize a life threatening injury.
  • Provide treatment under hostile conditions
  • Conduct remote assessments and treatments
  • Plan and execute a rapid rescue to hard cover or safety.
  • Concepts of “Self-Aid” and improvised bandaging will be applied.

T.E.M.S. programs are offered all throughout the country. I only highlighted STS Consultants in this blog, because it was where I was personally trained. A simple Google search can guide you to various T.E.M.S. programs throughout the country, with various intensities in training, and various student dynamics. I hope this got you thinking about your agency, and the need for implementing or improving your T.E.M.S. program.

Take care everyone, until next time.