'Innovative' partnership allows police officer to double as paramedic
Mikeal Tordsen is sanctioned to also serve as a paramedic while on duty as a police officer after proposing a unique partnership between his two employers
By Kristine Goodrich
The Free Press
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — Mikeal Tordsen doesn't like to stand idle.
Like other North Mankato police officers, Tordsen responded to emergency medical calls and provided some basic care.
Also a paramedic, Tordsen often knew what additional treatment was needed.
But he did not have the equipment or the authority to provide advanced help.
He often found himself at an impasse until a Gold Cross ambulance crew arrived.
"I was going to calls and I knew what help they needed, but I couldn't do much," he said.
So two years ago Tordsen proposed a unique partnership between his two employers.
While he is on duty as a police patrol officer, Tordsen is now sanctioned to also serve as a paramedic. He carries extra medical equipment in his squad car and can provide more advanced care.
"Having advanced life support resources available to respond in this fashion is an innovative and encouraging strategy for those medical situations in which seconds count," said North Mankato Police Chief Ross Gullickson.
When he is on duty with the Police Department, Tordsen is first and foremost a police officer. Calls for police intervention take precedence; but when he is available, he responds to medical emergency calls in the city of North Mankato.
Often he is on scene several minutes before an ambulance can get there, he said.
Sometimes he starts treatments, such as putting in IVs or utilizing the CPAP breathing mask he carries in his squad.
Occasionally he assists with procedures, such as intubating patients, that require two paramedics.
Sometimes he retrieves equipment from the ambulance so other paramedics can stay with the patient.
Most times he assesses the patient and relays what he has learned to the ambulance crew before or as they arrive.
This allows the responding paramedics and patient to get to the hospital more quickly, Tordsen said.
Previously, even when he had assessments ready for the paramedics, they would have to repeat the process to make it official.
While all police squads have first-aid kits, Tordsen carries more advanced supplies. The most costly tool—an AED Defibrillator equipped with a cardiac rhythm monitor—was funded by a grant.
Tordsen has been a paramedic for over a decade and still works a few paramedic shifts each month.
But his dream always was to serve as a police officer, he said. The 43-year-old joined the North Mankato Police Department in 2016 and said he plans to stay with the department for the foreseeable future.
After getting the go-ahead from Police Department leaders, Tordsen researched partnerships in other communities and developed a proposal to present to Gold Cross leadership.
There are a handful of Minnesota cities that have officers who also are paramedics, Tordsen said. But in almost all of them the city operates both the police department and the ambulance service.
Tordsen found only the Breezy Point Police Department has partnered with a private ambulance service and he modeled his proposal after that arrangement.
The agreement in essence makes Tordsen officially an agent of Gold Cross whenever he needs to put his medical skills to use while wearing a police uniform.
After a successful trial period, the partnership has now been fully in place for one year.
"Having Mike on duty with the Police Department is like having extra (paramedic) staff working in Mankato," said Gold Cross Operations Supervisor Chad Schmitz. "The benefit of having a program such as this is, if a patient needs ALS (advanced life support) intervention, we now have a provider on scene within minutes."
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