Special Medical Training Gives Police Officers First Aid On Steroids

California City recently hosted specialized police medical training for several local law enforcement agencies, including Tehachapi Police, to give officers more tools to deal with medical emergencies during the first critical minutes after life-threatening injuries.

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“The problem we have in east Kern is the normal travel time is about an hour to the nearest trauma center. So we have that golden hour to help somebody until we can get them to a trauma center,” said California City Police Chief Eric Hurtado.

They’re not replacing EMS or fire departments, he said — just trying to add valuable minutes by stopping or slowing bleeding until paramedics can take over.

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Hurtado and his agency invited the Hawthorne Police Department SWAT to provide the specialized training to his department and neighboring law enforcement agencies in Kern County. Tehachapi Police Department and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation joined CCPD in the full day of classroom and practical application training.

”What we are giving these officers is first aid on steroids,“ said Hawthorne Police Lt. Ti Goetz. ”We have a personal stake in this. We lost two officers on our department in the last five years.“

The officers who attended spent the first four hours in a classroom setting for advanced first aid training, including application of tourniquets, pressure packing, chest seals, nose hose and other critical areas that add minutes to lives until professional medical services can take over.

The classroom setting was overseen by volunteer tactical physician Dr. Atilla Uner from UCLA. 

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”Hawthorne Police Department has developed a tactical medicine program. Tactical medicine means the aid to injured officers and other injured people during law enforcement operations, a time when regular EMS cannot safely access the patient,“ Uner said.

During the first minutes there are critical actions to be taken. Traditionally, it’s in those first minutes that law enforcement has not been able to properly administer care. The tactical medical program started 10 years ago in Hawthorne and has advanced above and beyond the level of life-saving care, Uner said.

The officers took the classroom theory into real-world situations in an abandoned hotel in Cal City.

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Hawthorne SWAT set up several scenarios in and around the old building and threw the officers into real-life situations. Officers arrived on one scene of a man down with some unknown type of injuries and shots  fired (blank rounds were actually fired to add to the real-life atmosphere). Officers were forced to make tactical decisions to safely access and then move the victim to an area where initial medical assessments and applications could be made.

Another scene played out as a domestic violence or family disturbance call that escalated and a person was shot and they had an active shooter. The officers were judged on their tactics and then identifying the medical problem and the best way to treat it.

The officers went through the scenarios multiple times and played different parts to see the situations as they developed in different ways. Each drill was designed to make the officer to think on his feet and to remember ”if your tactics are bad, you will never get to apply the medical,“ Goetz said.

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”This is unique, one-of-a-kind training,“ said CCPD Officer Steven Whiting, ”These are situations officers may have to face in their career.“

Officers faced a traffic stop where they were ambushed as they exited the car and one officer went down (the second officer involved had no idea his partner had been instructed to go down to add to the intensity) and forced the officer acting alone to not only handle the ambush, but also request help and start medical aid to his partner. The adrenaline flowed through the officers at each scenario. 

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Chief Hurtado said the Hawthorne Police Department did not charge anything to put on the training and provided some basic trauma kits to the agencies to take them back and share what basic medical supplies are needed to perform this work.

Hurtado said law enforcement agencies are now required by the State of California to upgrade their first aid to new standards. They have 18 months to do so.


Original Article by Key Budge, Tehachapi News can be found here

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