Frequently-used arguments against training cops in Tactical EMS


We’ve heard many reasons, excuses, and just plain “no” to the idea of including tactical medicine as part of our routine and regular training. I say — and many who have paved this path before me have said — that there are “no excuses!” when it comes to giving officers this life-saving skillset. Having said that, let’s review some of those frequently-offered and excuses, and take them on one by one. If anyone has any additional reasons or operational concerns for not doing it, I urge you to join us at the 2011 ILEETA (International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainer Association) conference one month from now. There, we will have a round-table discussion to benefit the skills and winning abilities of all law enforcement. Or add your comments here and we’ll discuss them in your behalf.

Budget — Probably the first thing brought up. No money for equipment and none for training. The point is well understood. It often falls on us as individuals to spend out of pocket, and at least get the minimum equipment. Grants are always available, but are competitive. Training can be free. Yes, aside from funding reasons, you can find free training to get the basic skills. If you don’t believe me, let’s talk. Conferences, private venues, experienced combat Vets. It’s out there. Once you have the basic skills, it costs nearly nothing to incorporate them into Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Vehicle Contacts, or any other discipline already in place. The bottom line cost for very basic complement of supplies is probably $50-$60.

Space — “I have no room on my belt, in my bag, in my trunk...” Sure you do. How about going through that ‘ol squad bag or briefcase? I bet you can get rid off some old gloves, dated manuals, papers, and treats. Save yourself two to three pounds, and set up a lighter go-kit that you can grab in a pinch. Trunks are for rescue teams and sprained wrists, not applications needed “NOW.” If you’re going in, you need it within reach. Those who come to help may have time to go in the trunk. Would an inch and a half of space be available on your belt? If not, how about ankle, concealable vest... The options are out there.

Not my Job — “Rescue will be here in five minutes... The Fire Department is two blocks down.” Well, even if they are right outside the door, that’s where they will usually stay. Just take a look at any active shooter, hot zone, or similar incident. Unless trained and practiced together, these resources are not useful at the point of wounding: In the back yard where Madland got shot, the apartment complex where
Fiegleson and McCaskill needed them, and not where Sauto was hit. Please understand, this is in no way a pun against our brothers and sisters in the EMS. But this, is simply not their job.

Liability — Liability of which part exactly? These are basic-level skills, comparable with most states levels of First Responder. Again, it has to be stressed that the training must be appropriate. Please refer to your local guidelines and work with your medical resources. As simple as it is, an improperly applied tourniquet or bandage will do no good, and will likely result in an adverse effect. It seems to me that knowing more skills, especially those that can also save the lives of civilians and by-standers will reduce the liability. Keep in mind, however, that these are environment-specific applications.

More Liability — Here it is again, and it’s usually a big concern. If you’re an administrator, Law Enforcement program lead, or a team leader and decided to implement any of the skills or programs discussed here, my hat is off to you. Heck, on behalf of many others, our hats are off and a hearty hand shake. You’re in a tough position. But, if you know that your subordinates, team mates, and students can benefit from training, and do nothing about it... Where is the liability?

Lack of Resources — I am willing to bet that there are already standards, legislation, and policies, including those which are easily adoptable to what you may need, or can model after.

Despite our best judgment, evidence, and common sense, sometimes it’s just easier to do nothing. To look away and say “not here” or “not me.” Why must we be proven wrong at this cost, and then scramble to react and address the gaps. Let’s do something now, plan, train and win.

About the author

Steve Rabinovich has been a Police Officer since 1999, and has worked as an EMT/Rescue Diver and firefighter. Current and former assignments include Emergency Response Team, bike, Crisis Intervention, ERU, Mounted and dignitary details. Formerly USCG tactical unit, force protection and counter terrorism, and U.S Army 68W Medic. Steve teaches for his state’s technical college system for police and emergency medical responders, and is a TEMS representative/Board member with the Midwest Tactical Officers Association. He is a member of the Spirit of Blue Foundation Advisory Council.

  1. Tags
  2. SWAT
  3. Officer Safety
  4. Patrol Issues
  5. Tactical EMS / TEMS
  6. Administration

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