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Five Minutes to Live

A new interactive training program teaches officers how to save lives when seconds count.

November 01, 2004  |  by Dr. Lawrence Heiskell

Course Overview

"Tactical Lifesaver" begins with a historical look at mass shootings and profiles the typical mass shooter and weapons used. Mass shootings are on the rise in the United States, and many of these incidents have revealed that emergency medical personnel cannot get to the scene because of the rapidly developing tactical environment. The minutes between an incident and EMS arrival can mean the difference between life and death, not only for the victims but also for police officers wounded in an attempt to stop the shooter.

"Tactical Lifesaver" is designed to teach the skills that will allow a police officer to render lifesaving aid while still performing his or her job. In the course, officers learn critical medical skills that may help save a life until proper medical aid arrives.

If you or your partner are victims of penetrating injuries, there will not be enough time for a paramedic to render aid at the scene, nor will you have an hour to get to the emergency room. An officer who is shot will die of shock hemorrhage, breathing or airway obstruction, or a tension pneumothorax (a life-threatening collapse of the lung). The cause must be treated immediately if there is to be any hope of survival.

But officers in the field also must be able to recognize what wounds are life threatening and require immediate action. This is why "Tactical Lifesaver" covers distant or remote assessment and triage. Despite lack of formal medical training, police officers can still perform an accurate victim assessment after learning the basic skills taught in this course.

Tactical Lifesaver is a self-paced interactive course that teaches officers how to respond to the most critical traumas when medical help is not available and seconds count.

The course also does a very good job of explaining basic first aid in a simplistic way that is easy for the police officer to understand. However, the shock and hemorrhage section can be a little technical for some officers.

A police officer's primary duty is to stop criminal behavior. However, the secondary duty is to render assistance, and the assistance skills you can learn from "Tactical Lifesaver" may save your life or the lives of fellow officers.

A section of the course also covers litters, emergency drags, and carries, as well as techniques for improvised litters. Most police officers will arrive at a crime scene with little or no medical equipment and minimal first-aid training. The officer may be assisting a victim who is in an exposed area subject to hostile fire. And the officer will have to decide at some point whether moving the victims creates more danger than leaving them in position. The six drag techniques covered are helpful information for the police officer who may need to move a fellow officer or victim.

Finally and most controversially, "Tactical Lifesaver" covers last-ditch lifesaving skills. The skills discussed in this section are easy to perform, but they are not basic lifesaving skills. These techniques are to be used in the most extreme cases when you or your partner will die unless something is done immediately.

A Real Lifesaver

"Tactical Lifesaver" is a very informative and educational module that should be viewed by all police officers, regardless of their interest in learning medical lifesaving skills.

I congratulate the staff of the Backup Training Corp. for this contribution to emergency medicine and law enforcement. They are clearly dedicated to improving the survival of street police officers. I personally recommend that all law enforcement administrators and trainers seriously consider this training module for their departments.

New Trauma Dressing Updates Battlefield Bandage

Unlike other new products that claim to clot blood faster, the Emergency Bandage from Houston-based First Care Products is not a largely unproven technology. It's an update of a time-honored battlefield dressing.

The Emergency Bandage was specifically designed to treat life-threatening bleeding injuries. This sterile, non-stick bandage can be used to apply pressure to any site, is easily wrapped and secured, and can act as a tourniquet in cases of severe bleeding. The beauty of this product is that the bandage can be applied to the head, axilla (arm pit), or groin for control of hemorrhage in these difficult areas.

Small and easy to open and apply, the Emergency Bandage is FDA approved and available in a 4-inch bandage for $4.20 or 6-inch dressing for $4.55. The new 6-inch bandage with a sliding pad is priced at $5.20. By law, First Care Products is required to list a sterility expiration date for the Emergency Bandage. However, in theory, if the package has not been opened or damaged it will never expire. The sterility for the bandage is guaranteed for at least five years.

First Care Products can provide a video training CD that is easy to understand and can train a non-medical person to be an expert with the Emergency Bandage in just a few minutes.

The Emergency Bandage has been selected by the 75th Ranger Regiment of Fort Benning, Ga., as its primary battle dressing based on manufacturing effectiveness, ease of use, and price.

First Care Products

Lawrence E. Heiskell, M.D., FACEP, FAAFP, is a practicing emergency physician, a reserve police officer, and a tactically trained SWAT team physician with the Palm Springs (Calif.) Police Department. A member of the POLICE Advisory Board, Dr. Heiskell has no affiliation or association with The Backup Tactical Corp.

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