November 12, 2010

Police, EMTs trade tactical skills
Morehead,Kentucky
CNHI The Morehead News Fri Nov 12, 2010, 12:58 PM EST

Nov. 12, 2010 — An armed gunman enters a building and shoots many people. In situations like this, police, SWAT teams and emergency technicians are called to the scene. Whenever emergency crews find themselves responding to a call like this, time is of the essence when rescuing the injured and hostages.

Danny Blevins, director of the Morehead-Rowan County EMS Service, said it is important for each member of the ambulance service and police to be able to communicate and know each other’s job so they can be safe.

“This is basic tactical EMS,” Blevins said, as police and medics prepared for their first rescue scenario. “Tactic medicine is taking medics and indoctrinating them into the tactical field as far as how to operate in high stress conditions involving active shooter situations or hostage situations. It is anything that involves firearms.”

Training began at the Morehead Conference Center Monday with classroom training involving lectures on basic tactical procedures and first aid procedures. Training ended with mock live-armed rescue operation techniques at the Cooper Hall building at Morehead State University Wednesday afternoon.

Participating were six paramedics from the Morehead-Rowan County EMS, emergency technicians (EMTs) from Route 377 Fire Department, Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Morehead Police Department Tactical Unit, MSU Police Department and the Boyd County EMS Tactical Medical Unit.

“It’s commonplace in the EMS field for law enforcement and EMS to work together,” Blevins said. “But there has always been some distance when you get onto a scene that may not be totally safe. Traditionally EMS has always been staged away to where we were in a safe area,” Blevins said.

Medics are being trained to give a higher level of care so that when they are involved in a tactical situation they can give medical attention to injured persons on the scene.

“These medics will be able to, at some point hopefully, work with our law enforcement in high risk environments such as active shooter situations that may be going on in a workplace or a school setting, or maybe when serving high risk warrants,” Blevins said. “Wherever law enforcement may find themselves in a high-risk situation, our tactical medics will be fairly close to provide care for our officers, for victims and for the perpetrator. That is the whole idea about tactical medicine.”

Aaron Riley, EMT for the Morehead-Rowan County EMS, said the training was beneficial for the ambulance service and the local police departments.

“It was very helpful because of certain situations we can get into such as a shooting event at the college and all the schools,” Riley said. “It is really helpful because we will know what to do. We will have a plan in place.”

Many situations that arise are not always predictable, Riley added.

“So far it’s been pretty neat,” said Jarrod Gilliam, paramedic for Morehead-Rowan County EMS. “ I can see it being helpful for that one time when we will need it.”

Gilliam said he is glad the ambulance service and the police were able to train together.

“I feel like we will do a little better if we have to in a bad situation,” Gilliam said.

He said he learned a lot from the training.

“I would say the tactics and how to move with the police department,” Gilliam said. “Before we were staged two or three blocks away and now it’s about how to move in with them. It’s about being closer to them and use tactics we’ve never practiced or used before.”

David Gavin, MSU police officer, said he thought it was a great idea for paramedics to participate in the tactical training.

“Not only do we have them (medics) for us as police officers but we would have them for if God forbid, as you say, if we have a student who is injured in the building that we can get to, we would have the medics in the building,” Gavin said. “So we can get them in and out and get them treated and get them out of the building as quickly as we can.”

Matt Sparks, MSU chief of police, said the tactical training was a great opportunity for enforcement and emergency medical service agencies to train together so they can work together during any hostile situations.

"To my knowledge, this is the first training of its kind especially for this county and this part of the state where you have police and medics training as one unit,” Sparks said. “I think we are much more prepared. Training is an ongoing process. It’s not something you do once and quit. We will have to continue to train together.”

Sparks said when they participated in the first scenario Monday, paramedics and police officers took nine minutes to get to the injured person.

“Obviously this was a training scenario,” Sparks said. “But if we had an injured person with severe bleeding, they would have bled out before we got medics to him. Two days later in the training, we were able to get to the injured person within a minute and minute and a half. The faster you can get to the person who is injured, the better chance they have of living.”

Mike Sorrentino, Medic Up instructor, said he thought the medics are more aware of how to respond and act during an active shooter situation.

“I think this a good foothold to begin their training with the police and EMS combined together,” Sorrentino said. “The only time that they are going to be ready is when they think they are ready for it and they continue to train. With two days of training, they are not ready for it. They have the basic knowledge that they can build upon.”

Blevins said he was grateful to everyone that participated in the event.

“I want to personally thank MSU Police Chief Matt Sparks,” Blevins said. “He has been a big player for opening up facilities here at the university. He recognizes the need is real.”

Sponsors of the training are:

• SRG Global

• PHI

• Morehead State University

• Rowan County Sheriff’s Office

• Morehead Police Department

• Morehead Fraternal Order of Police

• Downtown BP

• Whittaker Bank

• Route 377 Fire Department

• Route 377 Ladies Auxiliary

• Air Methods

• St. Claire Regional Medical Center

“The training is something that we have been needing for a while and it is nice to be able to put into play,” Blevins said.

In the future, Blevins added, there will be a need for funding to purchase equipment and continue training so rescue agencies can be more prepared for hostile situations.