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Police train to treat mass casualties

Based on battlefield experience
Posted at 7:27 PM, Aug 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-07 22:27:06-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Mass shootings have added another life saving responsibility for law enforcement——the need for emergency medical treatment to keep shooting victims alive until paramedics can arrive.

Sahuarita Police hosted medical training Wednesday based on what medics learn on the battle field.

As police run towards a man who lies bleeding on the ground they shout, “Show me your hands! Show me your hands!”

Officers learn even the wounded can still be a threat. They could be one of the shooters, or someone who happens to have a weapon and may be disoriented and dangerous from pain and loss of blood.

Once it’s safe to start treatment officers have to be sure they’ve found all the wounds, then make quick decisions on the treatment required.

“I need a chest seal!”

It’s all an intense simulation. The training is taught by ICSAVE, an organization of law enforcement professionals who volunteer their life-saving skills.

A key to survival is individual first aid kits, often called IFAKs. They were developed from experience combat medics earned the hard way on battlefields around the world.

ICSAVE instructor Bruce Whitney says, “Like these kits were used in the January 8th shooting by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. They were able to save some lives with these accoutrements so you know this is personal for us, we’ve had personal examples of where these have saved people’s lives.”

Sahuarita Police understood the need for this training, and scheduled it well before the most recent mass shootings. They invited several other police agencies because they know a mass shooting would call for help from many departments.

Sahuarita Police Sergeant Mike Falquez says, “And we continuously work with the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Border Patrol, Highway Patrol dependent on the incident, so that helps us work together before something happens.”

And Bruce Whitney says the training includes an emphasis on a particular type of wound.

“Two shots to the chest, which we’re finding at least these civilian tragedies more and more often when they happen we’re having center mass shots, we’re having shots to the chest.”

And officers know it’s better to train for the day you hope never comes, than to have that day come and not be prepared.