For the past 20-plus years, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) firefighter/paramedics have accompanied the Miami-Dade Police Department's (MDPD) Special Response Team (SRT) on responses involving drug raids and serving of high-risk search and arrest warrants. For the most part, our crews were...
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The current construct of MDPD's SRT consists of three 10-man teams, with each team consisting of a sergeant (team leader) and nine tactical operators. They provide assistance during the serving of high-risk search and arrest warrants, incidents involving armed barricaded subjects, hostage rescue situations, dignitary and government official protection details, major aircraft disasters, civil unrest and demonstrations, and multiple other scenarios.
The next phase of the program is to have all paramedics who have successfully completed the SRT training become certified as reserve MDPD officers. Several MDFR personnel are former police officers and have retained their reserve officer status; two have remained involved with the SRT program on their days off. Since the 386-hour reserve officer course will take approximately six months to complete, the candidates may be assigned to MDPD on a 40-hour week to complete their training, or a shift-friendly program will be developed letting them complete the training in an off-duty capacity.
Once certified, two tactical paramedics will be assigned to each team. The remaining MDFR personnel not assigned to teams will be required to maintain reserve officer certification by completing 16 hours of ride time with MDPD each month. Tactical paramedics will be issued the standard tactical protective gear provided to SRT police officers. They will be issued the Glock 34 semiautomatic handgun and will be trained and qualified to use the Colt Commando M4 assault rifle and Remington 870 shotgun. All medical equipment will be provided by MDFR.
The Miami-Dade Police and Fire Rescue departments have a camaraderie not generally seen between law enforcement and fire services. Both agencies are working in partnership on multiple programs, but this tactical paramedic training in particular may one day reduce the response time to a gunshot wound, ultimately saving an officer's life.
ROBERT PALESTRANT has more than three decades of experience serving South Florida as a paramedic/firefighter, registered nurse and emergency manager. He is the Miami-Dade County, FL, Fire Rescue Department's first division chief for Domestic Preparedness and has served as the administrative division chief for operations, operations district chief, and director of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security for Miami-Dade County. Palestrant is a member of FEMA USAR Florida Task Force 1, Miami-Fort Lauderdale Urban Area Security Initiative Working Group, South East Regional Domestic Security Task Force and Fire Service Intelligence Enterprise Advisory Group. He has a bachelor's degree in public administration and a diploma in nursing, and is a Florida Professional Emergency Manager and a Certified Emergency Manager.