The radio silence is broken when suddenly a patrol unit announces shots fired, officer down, medical help requested. These are words that every police officer, everywhere, dreads to hear. Suddenly every officer who hears the radio traffic is wondering: Who is it? How far away is the incident? How bad are the injuries? How do I get there to help? The difference in the outcome is what occurs in the first 60 seconds. As a police officer, do you have the knowledge, skills, or equipment to perform life saving procedures during the worst case scenario?
A police officer having to perform some level of medical care is not a matter of “IF” but a matter of “WHEN.” So, education and training for self-care/buddy-care should be mandatory for all police officers since the police profession has a high potential for injury or death. Many police academies through out the country require the officer candidate to complete training in basic first aid and CPR. On the down side, many police departments do not require officers to maintain certifications in basic first aid and CPR after employment. This puts the weight of ongoing training and education on the individual officer.
The purpose behind the training was to allow police officers to provide an additional service to the public when his/her job duties require it. All curriculums for police officers should require mandatory hours in self-care/buddy-care. It would be nice to know that the officer sitting beside me has the ability to save my life, if the situation should warrant it. What the police officer does initially after an injury could mean life or death.
Things to Consider
Training and education in self-care/buddy-care for police officers involved in tactical situations can be obtained from the healthcare provider on the team, like the physician, nurse practitioner, or paramedic/EMT. There are numerous TEMS training services that offer self-care/buddy-care, but officers should check the credentials, credibility, and educational track record of these services.
So where else can an officer get training in self-care/buddy-care? We can contact healthcare facilities, like hospitals and urgent care centers, ambulance services, fire departments, and educational facilities. Individuals can also obtain on-line certifications but they do not include the hands-on practice that enhances the understanding process.
Self-care/buddy care does not have to be in-depth. The basics should include at a minimum the rapid application of tourniquets for extremity bleeding, use of hemostatic dressings, and covering the injury with compression bandages. Self-care/buddy care can provide officers with a survival mindset, proper tactics, the ability to provide the best care under fire, can enhance officer safety, and educate the officer in BLS/limb saving techniques to help wounded or injured personnel.
The police officer brotherhood has one of the best communications networks available. The shear number of police officers in this country can spread the word on an incident from coast to coast. Let’s spread the word on what we need to help us survive a potentially lethal situation.